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Pundits applaud Becca’s great knock

Published:Friday | March 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMElton Tucker/Assistant Editor - Sports

Veteran cricket commentators Andrew Mason and Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira said that Caribbean journalism has suffered a great loss following the death of legendary cricket writer Tony Becca on Thursday.

Becca, a former sports editor at The Gleaner, died at Andrews Memorial Hospital two days after being admitted there for colon failure. He had a successful operation to remove his colon but died yesterday morning from heart failure. He was 78.

Mason said he met Becca 25 years ago at Sabina Park, the headquarters of cricket in Jamaica.

“The first thing he said to me was that you have to be fair and balanced. People will respect if you are fair and balanced,” the Barbadian said. “Another thing which impressed me about him is that he never carried the Jamaican perspective. He was always very fair as a journalist.”

While stating that Becca carried the torch in writing on West Indies cricket with the late Tony Cozier for decades, Mason described the Jamaican cricket writer’s deep love for the regional game. “I knew he was passionate about the game and became particularly disappointed in the last 15-20 years with the results of the West Indies. He would say to me, ‘Boy, Andrew, I can’t take this.’ Like most of us, he really loved West Indies cricket. Even in poor health, he continued to write beautifully,” Mason, who has been a cricket commentator since 1980, said.

Perreira, a Guyanese who now lives in St Lucia, has known Becca since 1969 and the two have been very close since then. He said Becca, who was one of the leading cricket writers when West Indies dominated Tests and one-dayers from 1977 until 1991, always had a very good relationship with the West Indies players. “He was what you would call a gentleman cricket writer in every sense. He would not write anything he was told off the record. He also covered a wide variety of sports. He wrote on track, netball, table tennis, golf, and hockey. As an administrator, he spent a lot of time raising money to pay the bills at his beloved Melbourne Cricket Club,” Perreira said, while calling for Becca’s legacy to be preserved.

“It would be good if all his writing is put together and sent to secondary schools around so his work would become a guide to young people,” Perreira said, while extending condolences to Becca’s widow, Cecelia, and the rest of his family.

Becca, who was born in Seaforth, St Thomas, started covering Test cricket in 1974 and reported on more than 150 matches in the Caribbean, England, India, Australia, and South Africa.

Gleaner Managing Director Christopher Barnes also said of Tony: “I didn’t have the opportunity to work with Tony but admired his journalism and the respect he commanded in the world of sports and beyond. Tony was a true example of someone with strong passion for what they do, demonstrated by the 16 years he remained contributing to The Gleaner after his retirement.”

Robert Hart, the acting editor-in-chief, said: “Long recognised as the foremost authority on West Indies cricket, Tony, through his popular column, On the Boundary, continued up to this week to deepen readers’ knowledge and stir heated debate on cricket and many other sporting pursuits.”

And Gary Allen, CEO of the RJRGLEANER Group, also hailed his service to journalism.

“His incisive journalistic coverage, of especially West Indies cricket from across the world, delighted thousands. His work and his award-winning recognition will never be forgotten,” he said.

READ: Becca a cricket icon, A great innings