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Making a name for himself on radio

By JOEL BAILEY Tuesday, March 11 2014

THIS IS part two of a series about the life and times of one of cricket’s most famous commentators and writers, Tony Cozier….

A number of old-stagers will remember Tony Cozier, not only for his match reports and television commentaries, but also for his radio commentaries, especially when the West Indies cricket teams were on tours all over the globe.

But he admitted that he had no formal radio training, a stark contrast to the modern era when radio courses are aplenty all over the world.

“As far as radio was concerned, it was quite by chance here in Trinidad,” he said. “In 1960-61 the West Indies were in Australia and there were about seven Barbadians on the squad. When Barbados came down to play Trinidad, I came down just to cover for the Barbados Daily News. (Radio) 610 were covering it and they didn’t know the new Barbados players. So they asked me to come on.”

Cozier continued, “the general manger then was Peter Pitts, a friend of mine. I came on and did a stint just to identify the Barbados players. And they said, ‘stay on’. I think they were pleased with what I did. I stayed on and that’s how I started commentary.”

However, he faced a little challenge during that decade, in terms of his writing and subsequent income.

“The newspaper closed in ’68,” he said. “I then arranged (to work) for the Advocate newspaper in Barbados. Thomson Organisation paper, which bought the Advocate, the Guardian here, they took over. They closed the Daily News. But I had arranged with (the Advocate) before that I would cover the 1968 tour of Australia. So I went on that tour, of Australia and New Zealand.”

Cozier added, “when I came back, I had no cricket except regional cricket and every now and again, for an international tour, I would come and do radio work. But I needed something outside of cricket. I then went and (became) the Associated Press correspondent for the Caribbean.

“I covered West Indian politics and current affairs, the Black Power riots in Trinidad, the Grenada elections. I did a lot of that, and features for the London Financial Times. I was doing a bit of cricket still but then supplementing that with writing on West Indian current affairs.”

The love for cricket did not die, and he was able to continue his coverage of the “gentleman’s game” during those times.

“I then went on every tour of England from ’66, I missed ’69, then went back in ’73 and worked on BBC Radio. I’ve worked on BBC Radio for every tour since ’73 when West Indies were there, and World Cups and so on,” he said.

“From (’71) on, West Indies went through a long period where they did not win a Test match. So we were going through a bad period then but we picked up in England in ’73, won the series and that gave us a kick-on. Clive Lloyd then took over from Rohan Kanhai as captain for the tour of India in ’74-75 which, again, I covered for West Indian papers and also did All India Radio as the West Indian commentator. Lloyd took over, won the World Cup and from there on I was just travelling with the West Indies team all the time. So it became cricket all the time.”

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