Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Tony Becca | The finest cricket journalist

Published:Thursday | May 12, 2016 | 5:00 AM

West Indies cricket is filled with insularity, but in the Press Box there is no such thing, at least not for a long, long time, and not when it comes to the recognition of one man.

Tony Cozier was a Barbadian, a white Bajan, but he was unquestionably the finest cricket journalist that the West Indies has ever produced.

Cozier started writing on cricket from 1962, but it was against Australia in 1965 that he ventured into Test cricket coverage, and for the next 50+ years to the time of his death, he was the West Indian voice in England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and South Africa.

The voice was heard on radio and on television, he wrote in newspapers and in magazines. At the end of a day's play, anywhere in the world, Cozier seemed to go on and on as he tried to satisfy all those who were expecting to hear from him all over the world by the next day.

He never failed them.

Cozier did not stop there. His West Indian Cricket Annual, which he published from 1971 to 1991, was a cricket lover's joy and is now a collector's item. His book, The West Indies - 50 years of Test Cricket, was a bestseller.

Tony Cozier was more than a cricket writer, however. Although he never played first-class cricket, he was a cricketer in the true sense of the term.

He ate, slept and dreamt about cricket all his life. He never played with them, but he knew about the likes of Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Wes Hall, Lance Gibbs, Lawrence Rowe, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Brian Lara, Richie Richardson, and Chris Gayle.

 

VAST KNOWLEDGE

 

Over the years, he knew cricket and cricketers inside out and he knew them so well that he seemed to know what made them tick and when they would tick.

I met Cozier in the 1970s. I worked with him and Joseph 'Reds' Perreira around the world from 1974 and I have never met a more decent man in my life.

He was more experienced than us, he had travelled more than us by the time we got into the profession, and on many occasions he looked after us. We were sometimes called the 'Three Musketeers' of West Indies cricket, especially by our English colleagues and friends.

In 2007, the Press Box at Kensington Oval was named after him in recognition of his service to cricket, and in 2011, he was made honorary life member of the ICC for talking so much about cricket.

Yesterday, on hearing the news of his death, the ICC said: "One of the truly great voices of cricket has gone. It is a huge loss to the cricket community."

Cozier meant almost much to West Indies cricket, almost as much as Sobers did, and his name reached almost as far.