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Voice and spirit of WI cricket


MIKE KING, [email protected]

Voice and spirit of WI cricket

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EDWIN YEARWOOD is not the only one hearing a voice in his head. I am still hearing Tony Cozier’s clear, distinctive, instantly recognisable voice of cricketing reason.

Cozier was unmatched for cricket wisdom and cricket knowledge.

He was authoritative, and this was the source of his influence. He flattered nobody and told it as he saw and felt it.

When you read or heard him you never felt what he was uttering was about him. It was about cricket, and West Indian cricket, about which he was passionate and caring. Let us say it again: it was never about him. it was about cricket. So in the best way it was about him.

He was the voice and spirit of West Indian cricket. C. L. R. James focused and philosophised. Tony Cozier told the story. Keeper of the flame.

We will not see, read, or hear the likes of him again.

One of the greatest West Indian innings came to an end, a few days ago. Privileged were the billions who listened to him through one of the most illustrious careers ever known to a commentator.

From 1965 to the most recent, he had seen more of WI cricket than anyone else. Not even the great Sir Garfield Sobers can say otherwise.

Encyclopaedia of cricket

Hundreds of people refer to me as the King of Stats, but it is Cozier whom I admired as a boy in the 1960s, who paved the way. Cozier was an encyclopaedia of cricket. With his unlimited vocabulary and sweetly timed adjectives, the genius of over four decades will be sadly missed. Regrettably, WI cricket will never be the same.

His first radio Test match commentary was in 1965, and he broke into television with Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket on Channel Nine in Australia. He would be there for the next half-century, through thick and thin, telling it as he saw it – from Bourda to Bombay, from Peshawar to Port Elizabeth, and from Kensington to Karachi.

Unknown and unproven

The Sir Tony Cozier Award for Cricket Commentaries should be instituted to honour him and should go to a regionally-based WI cricket commentator doing ball by ball commentaries.

Simultaneously, the Sir Tony Cozier Literary Award for Cricket Writings should be initiated to reward a young or an established regional cricket journalist.

In addition, someone should be chosen either every year or two years, maybe three, to prepare and deliver the “Tony Cozier Lectures” in a black tie affair at some posh location.

I was fortunate to start my journalistic career under the wings of the late Don Norville and Cozier. The year was 1982 and I was an unknown, unproven 21-year-old, who needed to be shown the ropes.

Cozier was the one who “created” the name Mike King. In December 1983, I wrote a feature for the SUNDAY SUN and Cozier, who was the Sports Editor of that publication at the time, probably felt that the name Michael King was too long and shortened it to Mike King. That feature I wrote was the start of Sporting Kingdom, a weekly column I started at the age of 22, under the guidance and tutelage of Cozier.

Respect never wavered

I didn’t always agree with Cozier, but my respect for him never wavered. He was as serious as a judge in the Press box and frowned every now and again, on the excessive chatter from the young journalists or from those who should know better.

Cozier was a brilliant writer, broadcaster and historian. I will allow those who actually got to know him, to comment on Cozier, the man.

It was a privilege to work with and alongside him. He was a wealth of knowledge and was a national treasure. It was unfortunate that he never found the time to conduct workshops for aspiring young sports journalists.

I am sure his help would have been appreciated.

Cozier’s legacy is assured. We roared with his passion; we learned that no matter how dismal the news, how harsh the analysis, his voice was bringing West Indian truths home.

His eternal silence has left West Indies’ cricket without its most iconic voice.

Farewell, TC. (MK)

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