Legendary cricket commentator Tony Cozier passes away

-tributes pour in

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Renowned regional and international cricket journalist Tony Cozier, the voice of West Indies cricket for more than five decades, has died.

The 75-year-old passed away on Wednesday morning at the Bayview Hospital where he had been hospitalised for the last few days.

Cozier’s illustrious career coincided with the halcyon days of West Indies cricket during the 1970s and 1980s, and he continued to chronicle the regional team’s fortunes over the last few decades of their decline.

The Barbadian, whose skills spanned radio, television and print, worked for nearly every major international media entity including the BBC, Channel Nine and Sky, and also wrote extensively for Caribbean and international papers.

Though he had struggled with health challenges in recent years, Cozier remained a major force and was had a presence in the commentary box when England toured the Caribbean last year for a three-Test series which finished 1-1.

The West Indies Cricket Board on Wednesday hailed Cozier as a “great ambassador” who had made an enduring impact on the sport.
“The lifelong work of Tony Cozier centred around West Indies cricket and he made a lasting contribution to the game,” a WICB statement said.

“He ensured that West Indies cricket fans all around the world received information and knowledge about their beloved team and their favourite players. His life was dedicated to the game in the Caribbean and we salute him for his outstanding work.”

It continued: “He was not just a great journalist, but also a great ambassador. He represented West Indies wherever he went. He educated people around the world about our cricket, our people, our culture and who we are. His voice was strong and echoed around the cricket world.

“He enjoyed West Indies victories and shared the pain when we lost. He gave a lifetime of dedicated service and will be remembered by all who came into contact with him.”

Long-time friend and fellow outstanding regional commentator, Reds Perreira, said Cozier’s death represented the loss of the finest ever “all-round cricket journalist.”

“I’ve lost not just a friend, I’ve lost a brother. He was in fact an outstanding Caribbean man,” Perreira said.

“He was no doubt the best all-round cricket journalist the world has ever seen and Barbados and the West Indies can be totally proud of the work of Tony Cozier.

“Not many journalists could broadcast radio, television and write many columns on a day of a Test match.”

Well-known English cricket commentator and writer, Jonathan Agnew, with whom Cozier featured extensively on the popular Test Match Special, was also glowing in tribute.

“Tony moved seamlessly between television and radio boxes throughout the world, gleefully describing the West Indies’ domination of the 1980s and then lamenting their subsequent demise,” Agnew said on the BBC website.

“He was a wonderfully descriptive and disciplined commentator, his melodic Bajan accent the perfect soundtrack to any cricket match.”

Trinidadian Fazeer Mohammed, the noted international cricket journalist, said Cozier’s body of work was unparalleled.

“Tony Cozier was not just the pre-eminent cricket journalist in the Caribbean history of the sport but also one of the finest ever in the entire global coverage of the game,” he told CMC Sports.

“His body of work compiled over 50 years as a journalist, radio and television broadcaster is unparalleled in our experience both in terms of quantity and exceptional quality.”

He added: “More than anything else I will remember him as the consummate professional, a man who could laugh and joke with the best of us yet never let his standards as a broadcaster and journalist waver in a lifetime dedicated to the game he obviously loved.”

Cozier, who played hockey for Barbados, was the editor of the West Indies Cricket Annual and was also a senior editor of leading local newspaper, the Nation, with whom he remained closely affiliated.

In honour of his contribution, the media centre at Kensington Oval was also renamed the Coppin, Cozier and Short Media Centre, following the redevelopment of the venue ahead of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Legendary former pacer Joel Garner, president of the Barbados Cricket Association, said Cozier had enriched the sport greatly.

“Cricket is richer having been blessed by the excellent contribution which Tony has made and we will forever be indebted to his keen observations and honest opinions.”

Cricket’s world governing body, the International Cricket Council, also tweeted its condolences: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Tony Cozier today. One of the truly great voices of cricket. A huge loss for the cricket community.”

Cozier leaves to mourn his wife Jillian and children, Natalie and Craig.

(BBC) Legendary West Indian commentator Tony Cozier has died at the age of 75.

A familiar and respected voice around the world, the Barbadian will be remembered for a career in TV, radio and journalism spanning 58 years.

Born in Bridgetown in 1940, he made his BBC Test Match Special debut in 1966, wrote several books and commentated for many major TV and radio networks.

Fellow broadcaster Jonathan Agnew once described him as his “favourite cricket commentator in the world”.

The son of a journalist, Cozier studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and began commentating and writing on West Indian cricket in 1958.

He played hockey as a goalkeeper for Barbados and cricket as an opening batsman and wicketkeeper for two Barbados clubs, Wanderers and Carlton.

But he became a household name through his work with major media organisations throughout the world, including the BBC, Channel Nine and Sky.

In December 2011, he was awarded honorary life membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club for services to the game, and the press box at the Kensington Oval in Barbados is named after him.

Tony Cozier
Tony Cozier

‘The perfect soundtrack to any cricket match’

Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew:

“Tony Cozier was one of the finest writers and broadcasters in the game. He started reporting in 1958 and seven years later he hit the airwaves for the first time.

“Fifty years on, he was still commentating on Test Match Special when England toured the West Indies.

“Throughout his career Cozier had to tread the tense tightrope of Caribbean politics, where even the slightest negative observation of a player’s performance can provoke a furious nationalistic backlash.

“He withstood this stoically and determinedly, remaining a strong critic of the West Indies Cricket Board’s lack of organisation and outlook.

“Tony moved seamlessly between television and radio boxes throughout the world, gleefully describing the West Indies’ domination of the 1980s and then lamenting their subsequent demise.

“He was a wonderfully descriptive and disciplined commentator, his melodic Bajan accent the perfect soundtrack to any cricket match.”

‘Cricketing commentary royalty’

Test Match Special producer Adam Mountford:

“He had a voice which instantly transported you from wherever you were in the world to the sun-drenched beaches of Barbados.

“Tony, or Winston Anthony Lloyd Cozier to give him his full name, was cricketing commentary royalty. It was a privilege to share a commentary box with him.

“He appeared on Test Match Special for the first time 50 years ago this summer at Headingley, the ground where the 2016 international season begins next week.

“In the 50 years since that summer, Tony became one of our most popular overseas commentators on Test Match Special, possessing one of the most recognisable voices in all broadcasting.

“He actually played a part in one of the most iconic moments in Test Match Special history, even though he didn’t actually say a word.

“During the infamous ‘leg over’ incident which caused such hilarity between Jonathan Agnew and Brian Johnston, Tony was actually in the corner of the commentary box.

“He could have stepped in at any moment to intervene, but instead chose to watch on and allowed one of our most magical moments to play out.”

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