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Mandela's lawyer remembers Lord's through the ages Published: 26 July 2013

Sir Sydney Kentridge was Nelson Mandela's lawyer during the apartheid era
Sir Sydney Kentridge was Nelson Mandela's lawyer during the apartheid era

Sir Sydney Kentridge, the former lawyer of Nelson Mandela, spoke to Lords.org during the second Investec Test at the Ground about cricket in the 1940s and whether the sporting boycott during South Africa's apartheid era affected the political systems.

Kentridge - who defended Mandela in the Treason Trial during the apartheid era - has been a frequent visitor to the Home of Cricket throughout his life.

You used to sit on the grass around the boundary

His first visit though came in 1947 when he was a student at Oxford University. He recalled watching Denis Compton and Bill Edrich amass a then world Test record partnership of 370 against his native South Africa.

"You used to sit on the grass around the boundary, it was a much smaller ground and you somehow felt you were closer to the action," Kentridge recollected.

Kentridge's next time to the Ground was just a year later for the 1948 Ashes series - which was famously Sir Don Bradman's last Test at the Home of Cricket on his final tour of England.

"I actually saw Bradman I'm glad to say," he remembered fondly.

When talking about apartheid and the sporting boycott during that era, Kentridge believes that it is hard to determine whether such boycotts had any tangible impact on the demise of the political system but remembers the Basil D'Oliveira affair having a lasting impression on cricket fans.

"Like everything else in South Africa it [cricket] was completely segregated, in those early days people just accepted it.

"I think the question of apartheid only really hit the cricket loving public with the D'Oliveira business, of course a great many people were pro-D'Oliviera and hoped he'd come, but of course the then apartheid government just wouldn't have it.

"I don't think it brought about any of the demise, but I think it did effect public opinion in a good way. It was a great pity for the cricketers and the rest of us who wanted to watch cricket."

Listen to the full interview with Sir Sydney Kentridge.


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