The loss of Tony Cozier has been well highlighted by the many cricketing pundits throughout the fraternity, undoubtedly deservedly. West Indies cricket and Tony Cozier were a very much a hybrid relationship. This son of the Caribbean encapsulated the essence of what it is to be a fan of cricket in this part of the world.
The commentary booth aptly named after him in Barbados will see that his name is not forgotten, but the Tony Cozier philosophy was much more profound, and was eloquently expressed in his columns which assessed, analysed, beseeched and asked pertinent questions of us as individuals and as a people.
He sought to teach or remind readers of his articles, hopefully read by every West Indian, that cricket was more than a game but was also a great institution of the region. All of this will add to his enduring legacy. For me we are missing the point of what his legacy should be, which is his commitment to the sport and how he engaged many of the issues that have plagued West Indies cricket in the last decade and a half. So it’s not Tony Cozier the quintessential journalist or commentator per se, it is the tenets which have inspired his work that have made him a household name in his field. That’s his legacy.
While one can attribute his longevity to being a professional, the care reflected in his columns as a custodian of the game speaks volumes about the man. And that is something he surely would want to transplant to the people of the region, especially the powers-that-be who govern our lovely game.
His role in the resurgence of West Indies cricket consisted more in writing a scathing report or offering a kind word, whichever was applicable, without fear or favour.
My encounter with Mr Cozier when I made my debut for West Indies at the Test level was an amicable one, and he reminded me of the magnitude of the opportunity and importance of West Indies cricket. “It’s never too late, make the most of the opportunity” were his words. Let’s hope it’s not too late for us to emulate Tony Cozier the Caribbean man. West Indian cricket will be better off for it.