It was supposed to be cricket's "Rosa Parks" moment.
As Basil D'Oliveira skipped off London's famous Oval after a majestic innings of 158 runs for England against Australia in 1968, he unwittingly walked into one of sport's most controversial and shameful sagas.
D'Oliveira, a "colored" man born in South Africa, would now surely return to his homeland wearing the "Three Lions" of England and stick a dagger in the heart of the country's apartheid regime.
After all, few teams would ever consider dropping a man who had just produced the innings of his life, the performance of his career.
But this was a different world, a time when -- 13 years after Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Alabama -- cunning, bribes and subterfuge attempted to gloss over the cruel regime of apartheid in South Africa.
When the touring party was announced the next day by the MCC, which then governed English cricket, few expected what was to follow.
With the watching world waiting for his name to be read out, D'Oliveira was omitted following pressure from the South African government.
"Even to this day, I don't think we've had an explanation from the MCC," D'Oliveira's former English county team captain Norman Gifford told CNN.
"When Basil left the field after that innings, I think he and everyone else had thought that he had booked his place on the boat to South Africa.
"We were all shocked by the decision, we couldn't believe it."
D'Oliveira's omission sent shockwaves throughout the world, leaving him in the middle of a media storm which would bring sport in South Africa to its knees.
While his teammates and supporters were left in disbelief, D'Oliveira collapsed in tears.
An MCC spokesman said at the time they had "an extremely difficult" job in deciding to omit D'Oliveira, but insisted the choice was taken "definitely purely on his cricketing ability."
Few believed that -- least of all D'Oliveira, who had already been offered a hefty bribe by a South African Tobacco businessman to make himself unavailable for England duty and spare the racist regime any embarrassment.
It was only after Tom Cartwright's withdrawal through injury that D'Oliveira was eventually chosen, leading to then South Africa Prime minister John Vorster to declare, "It is not the MCC team. It's the team of the anti-apartheid movement."
The tour was canceled and South Africa was left in the sporting wilderness from 1970-1991 until the historic day of Nelson Mandela's release from prison.
From the shy and quiet man who had arrived in England in 1960, D'Oliveira's life would never to be the same again.
As a youngster, D'Oliveira was one of the most promising players in the non-white leagues of South Africa. But with the country's racist regime prohibiting him from playing at the top level, he soon became disillusioned with life and even contemplated giving up the sport.
Out of desperation, he wrote a green-inked letter to revered English cricket journalist John Arlott, who took it upon himself to help D'Oliveira get out of South Africa.
Arlott, a writer, broadcaster and anti-apartheid campaigner, drew on his connections within the game and managed to find a team for D'Oliveira to showcase his talent.
It was the letter which changed a life. In the summer of 1960, D'Oliveira flew to England to play club cricket in Lancashire with Middleton after the black community of Cape Town came together to pay for his flight.
Life in England was tough at the start, emphasized by his experience of being late out of Heathrow airport after wandering around looking for the "non-white" exit, as he later recalled.
The fact that he could sit with white people in pubs, be served by white people in restaurants and not have to adhere to racist laws flummoxed him to start with.
The English weather also played its part, the cold and rain made were difficult to adjust to and it took some time for his performances in the Central Lancashire League to turn around.
But improve they did with his batting averages topping those of the great West Indian all round Garry Sobers, an achievement which earned him a new two-year contract.