Tony Cozier – the man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket

Cricket fans moan about commentators a lot, but in general we are well served by our sport. Tastes differ, but very few talk down to us and the majority have the capacity to offer some sort of insight when working in the right environment.

But as the world becomes smaller, even the best broadcasters are becoming more homogenous. They watch the same games, read the same articles and they know the same things about the same players. There’s a slick Dubai internationalism about it all.

Not everyone’s like that though. There are still a select few – generally from the smaller Test nations – who bring a distinct flavour of their region with them. Tony Cozier was of course one.

It is not about knowing the players. Every commentator should know the players. It is about knowing the people. When the West Indies toured, Cozier could tell you not only how a player played, but why he did so. He would know his upbringing; he would know where he learned his cricket; he would know how that player was viewed in the region.

Cozier would know the player’s background better than the player himself did. He would know the history of the club he had played for in his youth and how the island’s cricket and culture had evolved since the last great player from that same club. Some commentators tell you everything they know. It’s not that Cozier wouldn’t – he couldn’t. He could show you the relevant tip of the iceberg but you always got the sense that there was infinitely more left concealed.

In recent years Cozier seemed increasingly pissed off with the chronic ill health of West Indies cricket, but his despair never reached the point of giving up on it. It was almost as if the bouts of impotent frustration would renew his energy to look for solutions – and by the broad bat of Sobers, he had to look hard to find them.

He’d cover the latest spat between players and board, or the latest Test series defeat and you’d forgive him for being worn down by it all. But then next thing you know, he’d be full of cautious hope about Rahkeem Cornwall or someone. That is what you might accurately call irrepressible enthusiasm for the sport.

Cozier was one of the few men with an impartial overview of West Indies cricket. You’d think a man who could take a step back and see things for how they were and how problems might be resolved would be greatly valued, but this doesn’t seem to have been the case.

More than one obituary has mentioned that Cozier recently filed a lawsuit against WICB president Dave Cameron. Cameron pretty much called him a blind old man.

Blind? Tony Cozier? The man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket surely had the clearest vision of all.

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11 Appeals

  1. To the man who, in the face of West Indian incompetence, never stopped hoping, never stopped trying to find a solution.

    To the Shivnarine Chanderpaul of broadcasting.

  2. Do Lord Megachiefs of Gold every get awarded posthumously?

  3. In all of the recent musings about the three formats and how to deal with them, it seems to me that the cricket authorities have missed the biggest single ace that they hold – the summer tour as a story. From the arrival of the tourists, through the one-day series, the test series, and the T20 series, each summer’s tour sets the atmosphere for a British summer, or at least it could do if it was handled properly.

    A big part of this is the addition to the TMS team of a local commentator. Tony Cozier was the pick of them, bringing not only a detailed knowledge of the tourists and their cricket background, but also a sense of the cricket culture in which they play. This is crucial to the developing narrative of a good tour. Cozier brought not only West Indian cricket to the radio, he brought the West Indies to the radio. To listen to him was to be transported to a distant land (not literally, that’s Australia), even if he was commenting on a rain break in the West Midlands.

    I dislike getting older. Not because of my age and all that brings with it, but because the icons of the long, hot summers of my youth are disappearing. Heaven is a long car journey in a traffic jam, sun shining, windows open, Brian Johnson, CMJ and Tony Cozier on the radio. Marshall now comes in from the Nursery End, he’s up to the wicket and…

    • King Cricket

      May 12, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Precisely. We’ve written before about how life should take on the hue of the touring country (or the country being toured) and the commentators are a major part of that. Cricket is such a protracted game that it can permeate much of your life. Even your drive home from work can feel more exotic when the sun’s out and you’re listening to someone like Cozier.

      • Might be very much an acquired taste, but I always look forward to NZ tours because I enjoy Jeremy Coney in the TMS box. His commentary often feels like cracking company.

      • King Cricket

        May 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm

        No, Coney’s a good example. Also our favourite Kiwi, Ian Smith.

      • Astonishingly, I discover you linked to a thread which I’d forgotten completely, and in which I’ve already stated my enjoyment of Coney’s TMS work. I didn’t think I’d ever mentioned that to anyone before for fear of some kind of ritual humiliation.

    • Spot on. But there is one additional characteristic not yet mentioned here – which is relentlessly unbiased commentary, despite a passion for one’s team.

      Richie Benaud (rarely, perhaps uniquely for an Aussie commentator) had that impartiality. So did Tony Cozier.

  4. What is it about people called Dav* Cameron, eh?

  5. Re: My reply of ‘Marvellous :)’ above.

    I posted it in response to Bert’s excellent post above, not out of some warped joy at the passing of Tony C.

    Far from it.

    Cozier was an established and reassuring part of each Summer where the West Indies were involved.

    I suppose we are lucky to have had him around for so long?

    He will be sorely missed with his astute observations and wonderful radio voice.

    RIP Tony.

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