Lara credits Cozier for Aussie series revival
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Former West Indies master batsman Brian Lara has credited the late cricket media icon, Tony Cozier, for helping to transform the fortunes of the beleaguered regional side following the wretched 1998-99 tour of South Africa.
West Indies were whitewashed 5-0 in the lopsided Test series, with only two of the encounters going the distance, and returned home to face the mighty Australians in a four-Test rubber.
After a 312-run mauling in the first Test in Port-of-Spain, Lara said he sought out Cozier's advice as captain, and the Barbadian's advice helped in turning the series around.
"We shared a very important moment in my career, which, for me, was a turning point. It happened after returning from South Africa in 1999 after a 5-0 drubbing and a first-Test loss to Australia," Lara told the NewsDay newspaper here.
"I sought the advice of Tony as I believed him to be the one person who had the first-hand experience to comment on where we were going wrong and what we could have done to arrest the painstaking slide.
"That conversation played a pivotal role in our winning the next two Test matches and drawing the series against the then best team in the world, Australia."
West Indies won the second Test in Kingston by 10 wickets, with Lara smashing an imperious 213 and followed up with a one-wicket nail-biter in Bridgetown, when Lara unveiled a majestic, match-winning, unbeaten 153 on the final day.
Cozier passed away in his native Barbados at the Bayview Hospital after being admitted just a few days earlier. He was 75.
For close to six decades, Cozier wrote and commentated on nearly every West Indies tour and became known as the 'voice of West Indies cricket'.
Lara, undoubtedly the finest batsman of his generation, described Cozier as a larger-than-life figure.
"Tony was a living history book, who had the unique ability to bring to contemporary cricket commentary a deep sense of strategy and analysis, as well as decades of watching history upfront," Lara pointed out.
"He had lived it, he had worked it, and he had absorbed it. That added a layer to his broadcasting, journalism and commentary that will be hard for anyone to match.
"His commentary was so descriptive, vivid, energetic and engaging, I could have visualised each ball, each over! I remember meeting Tony for the first time and it was as memorable as my first encounter with the great players at that time. Such was his passion and love for the game."