Nearly six decades of cricket reporting
Trinidad & Tobago Newsday article.
Port of Spain, Trinidad - This is part one of a series about the life and times of one of cricket’s most famous commentators and writers, Tony Cozier….
Christened Winston Anthony Cozier on July 10 1940, he has made a name for himself for over five decades as the voice of cricket in the Caribbean.
How did he start off in cricket?
“I was at school, at Lodge School in Barbados,” he replied. “My father (Jimmy) was the editor of the Voice in St Lucia. I used to, as young boys do, listen to a lot of cricket and write something on the exercise books, some reports on the day’s play, that type of thing.
“When Australia were in the West Indies in 1955, I would have been just 15 or thereabout. The Voice of St Lucia was a five-day-a-week publication and I said to him (dad), “you think I can cover the match for The Voice?” He said, “yea once you get some time-off from the head master”. He gave me time-off and I covered that match (in Barbados).
“That was the famous match when (Denis) Atkinson and (Clairmonte) Depeiaza had their big partnership of 347. That was because my ‘old man’ was the editor of the paper and I was reporting for a very small paper in St Lucia.”
Did the writing genes pass off from his dad to him? He responded, “maybe, I don’t know. I was interested in cricket. He covered the tour of England in 1950 for all West Indian papers. When he came back, he did some cricket as well, but he was into more day-to-day journalism, not cricket. He gave that up.”
“Then he became the editor of The Voice of St Lucia, Barbados Advocate then he came here as the editor of the Trinidad Guardian. Then, when I came back on holidays, I would work at the Guardian, the Evening News radio as it was then. Cozier continued, “in 1958, I had just left school, and I was on summer holidays here. I was going to Guyana, I had friends there and I would stay with them. I said to the Guardian “do you want coverage of the West Indies games” because there were West Indies Track and Field Championships in those days. I went to cover those in 1958.
“Then my father and some other investors started a paper in Barbados – the Barbados Daily News – in 1960. In 1958 I went to university in Canada, Carlton University. I studied journalism, but I knew a lot of journalism. It was more a Bachelor of Arts Degree, rather than journalism because I knew exactly what to do from the time I was probably ten years old in St Lucia.”
The climatic conditions did not sit well with Cozier and he did not finish his stint at Carlton University.
“I had one more year to go, but the paper my father started in Barbados was starting then. And I said there was no way I was going back up, I’m going to be with the Barbados Daily News from the start.”
He then reflected on his stint with the Daily News.
“At a small paper, you do all sorts of thing,” he noted. “I was sports editor and I would write all sorts of thing – football, track and field and so on, on a local basis. The paper closed in 1968 by, at which time, I had done two tours of England for the paper.
“In 1963, I went (on) the Frank Worrell’s tour,” he continued. “I said to my father “let me cover the tour for the paper” (and) he said “we’ll pay your way and that’s it. You get there, you got to look after yourself.” I stayed in YMCAs and so on. I got some work on the BBC Caribbean Service.
“Then I did the ’66 tour of England on a more formal basis. That was the first time I did radio commentary on BBC Test Match Special. Roy Lawrence, who was the Jamaica Gleaner Sports Editor and was the voice of West Indies cricket, a beautiful voice he had, and he had done a lot of tours around the Caribbean, was coming back from the Commonwealth Games in Kingston to oversee the Jamaica Broadcast Corporation’s coverage. He was doing the BBC (reports) and he left, missed the Test match in Leeds so I filled in for him.”