Sat | Mar 23, 2019

Heaven: Becca a cricket icon

Published:Friday | March 1, 2019 | 12:30 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer

President of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven, in expressing shock at the passing of veteran sports journalist Tony Becca, described him as an icon of the game.

Becca, a former sports editor of The Gleaner, died at age 78 yesterday in the Andrews Memorial Hospital, where he was being treated for a ruptured colon weeks after contracting Dengue Fever. He had a successful operation to remove the colon on Tuesday but then had heart failure and died yesterday morning.

Heaven told The Gleaner that the cricketing world has lost a true icon and great individual who was an example for everyone to follow.

“The entire cricket fraternity is saddened by the passing of Tony Becca,” said Heaven. “We were always in touch with him, and we were always having discussions about cricket,” he said.

“He was never without an idea or an opinion as to how we should go and which way is the preferred in his estimation that we should take. He made a great contribution at different levels,” Heaven said.

He added: “He was president of Melbourne Cricket Club for years, and he was a lifetime member of the Jamaica Cricket Association, and he will certainly be missed by all.”

In the meantime, Mark Neita, president of the Melbourne Cricket Club where Becca served as its president for many years, said that the country has lost an outstanding individual who always gave of his best for the sport.

“We are all shocked at his ­passing,” said Neita. “I know that he has been ill for sometime and I had the privilege of spending some time with him just earlier this week, but, you know, Tony Becca is an icon,” he said.

“He is an intellectual heavyweight who has made a significant contribution to journalism throughout the region,” Neita said.

He added that Becca played a significant role in helping to develop the game of cricket at Melbourne.

“At Melbourne, he was one of our long-standing presidents. During his presidency, he was instrumental doing a lot of outstanding things, including implementing the Melbourne Cricket Festival, which brought some many great players to Jamaica,” Neita said. “He also helped to rebuild Melbourne from the ashes when we went bankrupt in the 1960s.”

Becca, who retired in July 2003 but continued to write a weekly column for The Gleaner, with his final piece appearing in the sports section on February 25, 2019. At a special send-off 16 years ago, ­former Jamaica Olympic Association president Mike Fennell described him as one of the best.

“There is no question about his professional competence as a journalist. He is undoubtedly one of the best anywhere,” Fennell said while speaking at a farewell ceremony.

“He is renown throughout the world as a top cricket writer and analyst, and there is no question about that. My knowledge of him is more from his very professional approach because in Jamaica, a small community, there’s always the danger that familiarity leads you to breach of confidence or leads you to do things that are not right. He has been the ultimate ­professional,” Fennell added.