Tony Cozier’s TV commentary stymied

Trinidad & Tobago Newsday article.

Port of Spain, Trinidad - This is part four of a series about the life and times of one of cricket’s most famous commentator and writer, Tony Cozier.

During the recent NAGICO Super50 Tournament held here in the twin-island republic, as well as the home series against England, Cozier’s voice was conspicuously absent from the television commentary panel.

He has been involved in every home series since the 1990 visit of England, with the exception of the 2012 encounter against New Zealand when he was absent due to health reasons. 

But the Mumbai, India-based Ten Sports won the rights to broadcast the West Indies home series last year. 

“I worked all the way through but I’m not too sure what the position is here because this tournament (NAGICO Super50) I was written by HAS, who was contracted by the West Indies Board to do this tournament,” Cozier related. “HAS contacted me and said they’ll like me to do this tournament. They gave me terms, I accepted and everything.” 

He continued, “I was all ready for that (but) then HAS then called me and said “well look, the Board has withdrawn your name, they said they wanted a broader mix of commentators rather than all Barbadians.” 

But now I see there are three Trinidadians (Ian Bishop, Fazeer Mohammed and Daren Ganga) in the panel so I don’t know what that is all about. I think possibly it has to do with if I criticised them. 

“It happened before about six years ago with Tony Deyal, he was the man in charge of the corporate matters for the Board (when) Julian Hunte was in charge. He then e-mailed IMG and said me and Ian Bishop should call the CEO, who was Donald Peters because they had issues with us. I called Peters and Peters didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. 

“(Deyal) used to be very abusive, he was very — almost dictatorial. We then said “okay fine.” He e-mailed IMG back and said “I understand that Cozier has spoken to Donald Peters but I’ll be monitoring the broadcast very closely. And if he continues with his caustic (style) on one side, we’ll ask you to take him off.” That may be a similar thing with this situation. I just tell it as it is really, as I see it, my point of view.” 

Cozier did radio commentary for the NAGICO Super50 with the Caribbean Super Station and the England tour for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 

“I still write a lot for Cricketer Magazine (and) Wisden Cricketer Almanac,” he said. “I do quite a bit of writing and magazines. The company which I have has always put out the Tour Guides (for WI home series). My son Craig looks after all of that. He also was a producer with IMG and he’s done cricket, but now he’s in India doing hockey. That’s where we stand.” 

However, Cozier could not help but touch on the declining fortunes of WI cricket, on and off the field. 

“To see West Indies now as they have become, down in the bottom, struggling, an administration which is entirely inefficient, if not incompetent, and that has a lot to answer for,” he said. 

“The fact that the Players Association is so belligerent, calling three strikes for what! What effect do those strikes have now except to bring the West Indies cricket team down. They were negative. I think we’re the only country in the world where couldn’t field teams three times because the Players Association called a strike. They and the Board were at loggerheads, always fighting each other. 

“As soon as you get a house divided against itself, and they were integral parts of West Indies cricket, the players and the Board, and they were always fighting against each other, what you expect? What you expect is what we have on the field now which is really mediocrity, an absolute irrelevance in world cricket.”

First Published In The Trinidad & Tobago Newsday.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 05:57