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Cozier – legendary voice of West Indies cricket, is no more

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SEARCHLIGHT joins with the global outpouring of grief at the news of the death of legendary Caribbean cricket journalist Tony Cozier and in expressing condolences to his family and the entire Caribbean cricket community. We also associate ourselves with the celebrations of his titanic achievements, not only on a personal level, but in promoting the cause of Caribbean cricket. It is not by chance that Cozier has been referred to as “the Voice of West Indian cricket”, a voice that will no longer be heard live.{{more}}

There is little that we can add to the volume of tributes being paid to him, save to say that he deserves every bit of it. He took up the mantle of the early Jamaican broadcaster Roy Lawrence and expanded it to the extent that, even those in our region with little interest in cricket would immediately recognize his voice. Together with his Guyanese fellow-professional, Joseph ‘Reds’ Pereira, Cozier became an advocate for Caribbean cricket and his legacy will always be associated with the supremacy of the regional team in the sixties, seventies and eighties.

His passing leaves a huge hole in Caribbean cricket broadcasting, coverage and commentary. Indeed, even if he was not at the same level of the extraordinary CLR James, in terms of linking cricket to the socio-political reality of Caribbean society, Cozier himself did not shy away from what we would term “socio-political commentary”, attempting to put the many controversies in West Indian cricket in a social context.

While he became the undoubted doyen of West Indies cricket journalism, Cozier was never above criticism, even hostility sometimes from avid cricket fans in the region. The fierce rivalry which spawned Cozier’s rise to the top of his profession also resulted in perceptions among fans in the region that he promoted the cause of certain cricketers and given his Barbadian background, that of certain Barbadian cricketers.

The petty nationalism which continues to plague Caribbean society and cricket aroused charges of ‘bias’ among some regional fans, more interested themselves in the promotion of their own nationals than in the success of West Indies cricket.

Tony Cozier matched the on-field heights of the legends of West Indies cricket, the likes of Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall and their successors, by becoming a legend himself in his off-field journalistic exploits, making a name for himself and transcending all the various sectors of his profession.

His passing is a very serious blow to a sport which already, as far as the region is concerned, is not grappling well with modern challenges. Cozier, and the lesser known broadcasters of his era, brought West Indies cricket, at the regional and international levels right to the ordinary people via radio. Today, if you can’t pay for cable television connection, you cannot follow live coverage. We can only speculate with trepidation what would become of the platform that he has so diligently built.

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