Cozier could paint pictures with words
Legendary West Indian commentator Tony Cozier died yesterday at the age of 75 after a long illness.
Cozier had a large following of fans who listened to his commentary on the radio when the West Indies were playing Test cricket at home or abroad.
For over 50 years Cozier was the voice of West Indies cricket, but Cozier's legacy lies beyond the Caribbean, for few matched his poise and his balance behind the microphone.
Cozier blessed cricket fans in Bermuda in with his presence in 1983 when he visited the island to commentate on Cup Match at Somerset Cricket Club as part of the ZBM team.
Initially immigration refused to allow him in, but later relented.
After three straight draws, Cozier got to see a victory in his only Cup Match when Clevie Wade captained St George's to their triumph over John Tucker's Somerset team, winning back the cup they lost in 1979.
That Cup Match was also a special for Colin Blades, the Somerset batsman, as it was his last appearance in the Classic and his Cozier, his former schoolmate from Barbados, was there to see it.
“He was a Bajan and he loved Barbados and never strayed too far even though he commentated all over the world,” said Blades, who grew up with Cozier in the parish of St John.
“He was one of the best commentators, a student of the game and he loved Caribbean cricket,” said Blades, who played for Barbados in the Shell Shield before moving to Bermuda in 1970. He played his first Cup Match that same year.
“He played too, as a wicketkeeper when we were at school and was also into hockey and was a goalkeeper,” Blades said of Cozier. “He was always a friendly guy and into sport.”
After his career, Blades also got into cricket commentary and covered Cup Match along with Randy Horton, the former Somerset captain, whose own debut as a Cup Match commentator was in 1983 alongside Cozier.
“Yes, I was playing that year when he came and he enjoyed himself, the first time he was exposed to the Dark ‘N' Stormy,” Blades recalled with a chuckle.
“He was one of the best and when he was on the radio was when a lot of us pictured cricket and ‘saw' what was going on through his voice.
“He was good at that, plus he was friendly with the cricketers and knew their backgrounds, guys like Sir Garfield Sobers, Conrad Hunte, Seymour Nurse and Charlie Griffith. He also knew George Rock fairly well.”
Wendell Smith, who also played in that 1983 St George's team before becoming St George's captain in 1985, is now a commentator himself on ZBM and appreciates what Cozier brought to the airwaves.
“I am sorry to hear of this loss to the cricket fraternity,” Smith said. “It was such a pleasure to listen to Mr Cozier commentate in his own unique way.
“What impressed me most about Mr Cozier was the wealth of knowledge that he possessed in respect to the history of West Indies cricket.
“He had the rare ability to paint a colourful picture of the atmosphere, surroundings and field placements, so that the listener was made to feel as if he or she was there at the match.”
Cozier commentated on almost every West Indies series since 1962. He was renowned for his knowledge of cricket history and statistics.
Cozier worked in radio and television all around the world, often in the same match after he switched from one booth to the other.
He also wrote numerous articles about the game for newspapers and magazines, including the Nation in Barbados and West Indies Cricket Annuals.
He continued to have articles published with one as recent as last week, mere days before his passing, after going into the hospital on May 3.
Cozier wrote several books, and was the editor and publisher of the West Indies Cricket Annual for over 20 years. He was awarded honorary life membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club for services to the game in December 2011.