The announcement that Tony Cozier had died came as a hugely upsetting blow to cricket. A man described by the great Michael Holding as being ‘right up there with Sir Garfield Sobers’ in terms of his importance to Caribbean cricket, he leaves a footprint on the game that will forever be remembered.
His passion for the game and love of West Indian cricket has been unparalleled in my lifetime, and his wonderfully dulcet tones will be sorely missed by all.
Following the deaths of Richie Benaud, Tony Greig and Christopher Martin-Jenkins in recent years, those old enough to remember Test Match Special during England’s less successful years (mainly the 1990s) are facing a brave new world. Not only were these people incredibly knowledgeable about the game but it was their enthusiasm and passion for the sport they so loved that was so obvious when you heard them speak.
Entire generations have grown up listening to these men.
Arguably, cricket’s greatest ever side, the West Indian team of the 1970s and 80s, is only so prominent in the history of the game because of Cozier’s involvement. In an era where media coverage of sport was nothing resembling today’s over hyperbolised landscape, it was he who brought the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall and Viv Richards to life on paper and on the air waves.
It was such a different time for so many reasons. The West Indies represented their people and Cozier was privileged enough to have access to the dressing room and so many of the players. It seems almost impossible to conceive something like that happening in the modern game with all the social media tittering and desire for everything in an instant. Fortunately for those who followed his writing, it is everywhere on the internet and Cozier’s legacy will live on, as will his region’s great sides through his writing.
It seems almost inconceivable to think of the West Indies and not think about Cozier. Along with Brian Lara, Lloyd, Richards and Sobers he has left the biggest footprint behind. I can remember listening to TMS during the 1995 summer whilst being driven round the North West coast of Scotland listening to yet another English drubbing at the hands of the West Indies. Despite the thrashing that England were receiving, his thoughts and input always made for pleasant listening.
The impact he has had upon the sport that he so dearly loved was up there with Benaud’s and is very unlikely to be repeated. Cricket is associated with gentlemen and you would have to go a long way in life to meet as much of a gentleman as Cozier was.
By Andy Hunter