Tony Cozier, the eminent voice of West Indies cricket broadcasting and its premier writer, is dead.
Cozier passed away this morning at the Bayview Hospital after losing a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 75.
Cozier spent a lifetime in journalism and was previously senior editor at the Nation Newspaper as well as being the Sunday Sun editor. He studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Cozier also worked at the Daily News which was founded by his father and fellow journalist Jimmy Cozier. He also worked for a short time at the Barbados Advocate.
Editor-in-chief at the Nation, Roy Morris, who worked with Cozier for over three decades, in paying tribute to his late colleague, told Barbados TODAY that from very early it was evident cricket flowed through Cozier’s veins.
”My association with Tony Cozier goes back to the early 1980s when I spent my early period as a trainee reporter on the Nation’s Sports Desk, and more particularly covering BCA First Division cricket each Saturday. From those early years there was absolutely no doubt that cricket flowed through Tony’s veins and into and out of a heart that was built on journalism.
“He was always professional and insisted on accuracy and news reports that not only captured the scores of the game, but the very life and energy of those who participated. It was he who taught me and other young journalists more than anything else that people mattered and they should be always at the centre of whatever we wrote.
“But he also made it clear, even up until his last days, that everything that was produced by the Nation and its journalists was important enough to him to subject it to the greatest scrutiny. He did not fail to comment on the quality of our writing, being critical when he felt it was necessary, and paid particular attention to photographs, an aspect of journalism that clearly was dear to him,” Morris said, while extending condolences to Cozier’s family on behalf of his editorial colleagues.
The West Indies Cricket Board also paid glowing tribute to Cozier and offered condolences to his family and friends.
“The lifelong work of Tony Cozier centred around West Indies cricket and he made a lasting contribution to the game. 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.
“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,” the official statement noted.
Cozier was an avid sportsman. He played hockey for Barbados and though he never played cricket at the national level, he did so at the club level for Wanderers with which he had a lengthy association.
But it was the former Lodge School alumnus’ prowess in the broadcast box and passion with the pen that brought him international respect and fame. He was the Caribbean’s foremost cricket commentator and for many years its only standard-bearer. His was the voice West Indians listened to as the regional team undertook tours to Australia, England, India, New Zealand and Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s. He later added series in Sri Lanka and South Africa to his portfolio. His first Test match radio broadcast was the 1965 series between Australia and West Indies in the Caribbean.
Often his perspective on the West Indies team, the game in the region and the cricket culture, provided the balance in the commentary box that went missing in his absence.
Cozier’s writings on the game in the Daily Nation, and especially the Sunday Sun, were a staple for generations of cricket enthusiasts. Indeed, though enduring failing health, Cozier’s cricket column appeared in the Sunday Sun edition of May 8, three days before his passing.
For 22 years starting in the late 1960s-early 1970s, his West Indian Cricket Annual was the regional cricket bible, providing extensive coverage not only of international tours and fixtures, but giving information and statistics on regional cricket competitions such as the Shell Shield Four-Day Tournament and the Geddes Grant/Harrison Line Trophy and Carib Beer Cup Limited-Overs Tournament, among others. He also wrote on tournaments in the Leeward and Windward Islands. He also authored the 1978 book,.The West Indies: 50 Years Of Test Cricket
During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s Cozier also kept Caribbean cricket fans abreast of the exploits of the many West Indian cricketers plying their trade on the English county circuit. He broke most, if not all, the major West Indies cricketing stories, including the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies team joining ranks with Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket in 1977-78.
Cozier’s incisive commentary, expertise and sharp wit were sought out on the international stage and apart from working throughout the Caribbean, he also worked as a member of the team on BBC’s Test Match Special and Sky Sports in England, as well as Channel Nine in Australia.
During his time Cozier rubbed shoulders with a who’s who of cricket broadcasting, including England’s renowned John Artlott and Henry Blofeld, as well as Australia’s Richie Benaud and Alan McGilvray.
For his sterling contribution to sports journalism Cozier was bestowed the Barbados’ Silver Crown of Merit by Government in the 2014 Independence Awards. As a tribute to his contribution to cricket the press box at Kensington Oval was named after him. In 2011 Cozier was also made a life member of the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for his contributions to the game.
He leaves to mourn wife Jillian, son Craig, daughter Natalie, and countless lovers of the game across the globe.