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 yesterday 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 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 yesterday 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.