Veteran cricket commentator and journalist Tony Cozier has died aged 75 following a short illness.
Cozier, who was the voice of West Indies cricket for more than 50 years, appeared on TV and radio around the world in addition to writing in several international newspapers and magazines and was regarded as one the most respected figures in the game.
He began his career on Australia’s 1965 tour of the Caribbean and was awarded life membership of the MCC for services to the sport in 2011.
Cozier died at his home in Barbados having been admitted to hospital earlier this month for tests related to infections in his neck and legs.
A tribute from the West Indies Cricket Board read: “On behalf the WICB and the various stakeholders in West Indies Cricket we offer sincere condolences to his wife Jillian, his son Craig, his daughter Natalie, his grandchildren and other 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.”
Tributes poured in from players and commentary box colleagues around the globe.
“Tony was the master of going between TV and radio ball-by-ball commentary. He was the master of both. He’s easily the best I’ve come across in 25 years at being able to do both disciplines,” wrote BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.
“Throughout his career Cozier had to tread the tense tightrope of Caribbean politics … 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.”
The Guardian‘s Mike Selvey wrote: “Since the ’60s (Cozier) had been the representation of Caribbean cricket almost as much as his great players through the ages, who he knew intimately, particularly those from his island. They played and he articulated their deeds across the airwaves as no other commentator would be able to do.”
In London’s Telegraph, Scyld Berry recounted how Cozier changed the game.
“When radio commentary took off in the Caribbean in the 1960s, with cricket binding together the region like nothing else, Tony Cozier was the man. He steered exactly the right path between the dryness of traditional Australian commentary, which focused solely on the score and play, and richer if sometimes self-indulgent English commentary where cakes and buses mattered as much as the game,” wrote Berry.
“His death is one of cricket’s major losses. At least he had the pleasure of seeing West Indies start their comeback as a cricket nation when they won the Under-19 World Cup, the Women’s T20 World Cup and the World T20 finals earlier this year. He had been forced to give up alcohol after a serious operation, but he would have risked one more rum to savour those successes.”
Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland also paid tribute to Cozier for his contribution to the game around the world.
“Like generations before me I had the great privilege of listening to Tony Cozier bring Caribbean cricket to millions of Australians,” Sutherland said.
“His mellow West Indian accent, astute observations and clever turn of phrase added to the colour and excitement of Caribbean tours to Australia.Tony was also a pioneer as a founding commentator of World Series Cricket, when the game lit up with day-night matches, changing cricket forever.
As an informative and colourful journalist he kept the cricket world abreast of a diverse and exotic region which has so embraced the game.Tony will be sadly missed around the world, including by many former and current Australian cricketers and fans who held deep affection for him and his commentary talents.
“The thoughts of the Australian cricket community are with his family and many friends at this sad time.” (cricket.com.au)