Chances are that for the entirety of your time that you have been following cricket, you have been listening to Tony Cozier on commentary duty. He’s been tenured to radio and to television. He’s written in the print media, he’s written books. He even offers his elegance to the usual shitfest that are the commentary teams for the official ICC events. Arguably, he is Mr West Indies Cricket, despite never having played at the highest level, which is no mean feat.
Anthony Cozier was born in Barbados in 1940 – the son of Jimmy, a journalist himself who founded and edited newspapers in both his home nation and in St Lucia. Cricket was clearly a big interest from an early age, and the youngster started writing about the sport informally as his family moved around the Caribbean with his father’s jobs. In 1958 his first formal reports were published. Two years later, he left the tropics for the first time as he moved to Ottowa’s Carleton University to study journalism.
It was in 1961 that he started working for Barbados Daily News and in the same year he debuted on Trinidad’s Radio 601. Two years later he accompanied the West Indies on their tour of England, covering the cricket for both the Daily News and for the BBC’s Caribbean Service. In 1965, there was for the first time a pan-West Indies radio commentary on the West Indies vs. Australia series and Cozier was chosen as the Barbadian representative. Soon after, he began his television career as well. In England, he has served on Test Match Special since 1966 – indeed he can currently be heard covering the ongoing series as the overseas guest alongside Viv Richards – as well as for Sky Sports. His career also includes stints on, inter alia, ABC Radio, Channel 9, All India Radio and writing for the Financial Times. He has authored several books and periodicals, including 50 Years in West Indian Cricket and Carribean Cricket Quarterly.
His greatest asset on commentary duty is a memory that an elephant would be proud of. Part of TMS’s charm are the regular digressions into cricket’s long past and Cozier is particularly adept at recalling results, scores and players. We’re sure he could quote the individual scores in every innings on any West Indian tour; we’re sure he could even name all the mediocre fast bowlers who’ve been called up by the WICB since the retirement of Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose.
However at the age of 71, there are signs of ageing. His confusion is by no means approaching Henry Blofeld-esque levels, but he will regularly mistake a player on the field of play or get the score wrong. Pleasingly though, he is quick to realise his mistakes and will rectify his mistake, viz: “that was a fine stop at mid-wicket by Jonathan Trott. Correction: Stuart Broad.”
It is perhaps not widely known that Cozier is actually an international sportsman. However his caps were not for the West Indies, but for Barbados, as a hockey goalkeeper. He also co-founded the Barbados Banks International Hockey Festival, which we’re sure our readers will agree is one of the great international hockey festivals.
As a cricketer, he was an opening batsman and wicketkeeper for two Barbados clubs, Wanderers and Carlton. Sadly, the 51allout research monkeys have been unable to find any records from his career, but we’re sure Cozier can remember each and every game.
Despite his often mistakes and fluffs, Cozier remains very valued as one of the last broadcasting links to a different age of cricket. We hope he will continue to commentate on West Indies cricket for many more years.