THE woman who was at the side of a Worcestershire cricket legend during a scandal that rocked cricket in the 1960s has died.

Naomi D’Oliveira died in St Richard’s Hospice on Sunday, December 31 following a short illness, aged 84.

She was married to Basil D’Oliveira for more than 50 years and supported him during the famous D’Oliveira affair in 1968.

Son Shaun D’Oliveira said she was a fantastic mother and a lovely lady.

He said: “She was always there for us when dad was away playing cricket.

“She taught me how to play when I was four of five years old and she was always supportive of dad especially during everything that happened.

“She was just a lovely, lovely lady and she will be very missed.”

Worcestershire County Cricket Club (CCC) chairman Stephen Taylor said: “The club were sad to hear of Naomi’s death and our sympathies and condolences are very much with the family.

“The D’Oliveira name will always be proudly associated with Worcestershire, firstly and most significantly with Basil, but also through the skills of Damian and now Brett.”

The D’Oliveira family has been synonymous with Worcestershire CCC for more than 50 years.

Mr D’Oliveira played for the county and England between 1964 and 1980 and made headlines when the 1968 tour of South Africa – where he was born – had to be called off after the apartheid regime refused to allow a non-white player into the country.

Mrs D’Oliveira married Basil in 1960, they settled in Worcester from 1964 and were together until his death in November 2011, aged 80.

Her son Damian D’Oliveira, who died in 2014, played for the county from 1982 to 1995 and grandson Brett is currently a first team regular at New Road.

Mick Vockins, secretary at Worcestershire CCC from 1971 to 2001, paid tribute to Mrs D’Oliveira saying she was “wonderful, very gentle, very gracious, immensely friendly and kind, and with a delightful sense of humour.

“It is said that behind every great man there is a good and strong woman, and that was most certainly the case with Naomi who gave Basil so much support during his illustrious career with Worcestershire and England.

“By golly, how she will be missed, not least by her family of whom she was so very proud, but how greatly we have been privileged to know her as a good and warm friend, a great lady and a light in our lives.”

Sports journalist Pat Murphy called Mrs D’Oliveira one of the kindest human beings he had ever known.

He said: “When I was writing Basil’s autobiography with the great man back in 1979 she could not have been more helpful and welcoming to me in her home. Basil may have been very much a man’s man but he deferred to her on many key issues.

“Without Naomi’s unconditional love and support he wouldn’t have overcome so many obstacles in his remarkable career and life.

“Naomi may have been petite but she was a tower of strength to Basil.”

Mrs D’Oliveira helped unveil bronze busts of her husband Basil and son Damian at a gala event at New Road in November 2017.

She was the mother of Damian and Shaun D’Oliveira and grandmother of Brett, Ryan, Dom and Marcus D’Oliveira.

Mrs D’Oliveira’s funeral will take place at Worcester Crematorium on Friday, January 26 at 10.45am followed by a gathering at New Road from noon.

The family are asking for donations to be made to St Richard’s Hospice.