Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Cozier was top of the class


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PRIDE AND INDUSTRY personified equal to any of his international peers.

That’s what Tony Cozier represented to me.

He was the Sir Garfield Sobers of cricket writers and broadcasters. With pen and microphone he made cricket reporting look easy, even as he dissected the intricacies of the game and the diverse personalities of its characters and administrators. He was unquestionably at the top of the class.

Cozier coined the right turn of phrase with perfect pitch, tone and inflection as he described a field setting, a bowler delivering or a batsman in his mode at the crease. Too sweet!

The coup de grace was when he connected historical significance to a particular plot through the lens of a very credible eyewitness who covered West Indies cricket for a generation all over the world.

If there is a cricket heaven, he alone will be given the responsibility to record every detail of this hallowed game on the field, if the issues beyond the boundary have already been assigned to another giant, C.L.R James.

One of a kind

Cozier should be the model for aspiring journalists and sports broadcasters. I concede that he was one of a kind and his style and substance may never be duplicated, but at least others who are willing to learn should be able to pick up something from him in their own quest for excellence.

I haven’t known another sports journalist who was able to use facts and figures in the erudite and clinical way he did to substantiate a particular point.

Obviously, you wouldn’t always agree with all of his arguments and conclusions but in my opinion he could never be faulted for the indepth way in which he put his case.

The one in this mould that stood out for me was written about the out of form opener Gordon Greenidge prior to the West Indies /Australia Test at Kensington Oval in 1991.

His A to Z chronicle of Greenidge’s most recent form, his prolonged run drought, made a strong case why Greenidge could have lost his place, but it can be argued that his overall track record convinced the selectors it was only a matter of time before he came good and they stuck with him.

The rest, as they say, is history as he smashed 226 in the second innings to remind supporters and critics alike of his pedigree.

Fair and fearless

Pundits on the whole shape their integrity and maintain it by being fair, fearless, objective and always factual in their analysis and discourses, without the slightest thought of bowing to sentimentality or the popular view in dealing with their subject.

Cozier was in this realm and would have ruffled more than a few feathers or earned some enemies in the execution of his duties, in drawing attention to issues that may have otherwise eluded the consideration of the average layman.

His perception of truth had to be respected because of the objectivity in how it was delivered. His reasoning was sound if not perfect to all.

It shouldn’t be forgotten, either, that the great man wasn’t always stiff and reticent; he also brought substantial humour to his presentations.

He could be a pugnacious, hard-hitting batsman who could switch styles to play back and across with sublime grace. Yes, we are talking about the complete writer and commentator, thus the earlier comparison to Sir Garfield Sobers.

Fitting tribute

His legacy will be preserved because the media centre is already named after him at Kensington but I believe the most fitting tribute would be for those still commenting on the game to embrace and sustain the extraordinary standards he set during his career.

I think a state funeral would have been be in order. After all, through his chosen field, he epitomised what we would refer to as the very best of Barbados.

Long live the king!

*Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist. 


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