Tony Cozier 1940-2016 May 13, 2016

Lara credits Cozier's advice at 'turning point' in career

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Holding: Cozier was the doyen of WI cricket

The death of Tony Cozier has been considered a loss cricket will mourn for a long time. Countless tributes have surfaced in the two days since his death due to illness in Barbados. Former West Indies captain Brian Lara, a legend of the game, also paid tribute, explaining how Cozier gave invaluable advice during a tough time in his career.

In 1998-99, West Indies were dismantled on a tour to South Africa; a tour which may not have gone ahead in the first place after Lara, captain at the time, and some of his players traveled to the UK instead of South Africa to protest against the allowances they were being paid and their unease with security arrangements. The WICB, in response, fired Lara and vice-captain Carl Hooper, and it needed an intervention from the South African board's managing director, Ali Bacher, and a series of meetings between the players, the WICB and the West Indies Players' Association in London to finally reach an accord. Lara was put in charge of the team again and South Africa whitewashed them. Only two of the five Tests went into the final day.

If West Indies thought returning home would bring them better luck, a world-beating Australian side bowled them out for 167 and 51 at Lara's home ground at Port-of-Spain in Trinidad. It was amid such tumult that Lara turned to Cozier.

"We shared a very important moment in my career, which for me was a turning point. It happened after returning from South Africa in 1999 after a 5-0 drubbing and a first-Test loss to Australia. I sought out the advice of Tony as I believed him to be the one person who had the first-hand experience to comment on where we were going wrong and what we could have done to arrest the painstaking slide," Lara told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. "That conversation played a pivotal role in our winning the next two Test matches and drawing the series against the then best team in the world, Australia."

Lara went on to score 213 in the second Test of the series, setting up the side's ten-wicket win and followed it up with an unbeaten 153* that helped West Indies chase down 308 in a thrilling one-wicket win. Lara believed very few people may be able to replicate the steadfast dedication that Cozier had to serve the game and its fans.

"Tony was a living history book, who had the unique ability to bring to contemporary cricket commentary a deep sense of strategy and analysis, as well as decades of watching history upfront," Lara said. "He had lived it, he had worked it and he had absorbed it. That added a layer to his broadcasting, journalism and commentary that will be hard for anyone to match.

"His commentary was so descriptive, vivid, energetic and engaging, I could have visualised each ball, each over! I remember meeting Tony for the first time and it was as memorable as my first encounter with the great players at that time, such was his passion and love for the game."

Lara went on to add: "For 58 years, Tony devoted his life to West Indies cricket never once losing his passion, even amid the turmoil West Indies cricket sometimes faced.

"I offer my deepest condolences to all his loved ones. He will never be forgotten."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Altaf on May 14, 2016, 4:52 GMT

    He was 4 of players whose commentary was very excited. Others were great Tony Greg, and Bill Lawrry.

  • LIONS803 on May 14, 2016, 1:52 GMT

    R.I.P....what a great and outstanding person, can't replace that voice. ....W.I . cricket and the entire cricketing world has lost a legend. ....we're going to miss your outstanding broadcasting. ....

  • Alex on May 13, 2016, 23:25 GMT

    Nice tribute Brian Lara. Tony Cozier spoke with the gentle wisdom of experience. He rarely let disappointment get the better of him despite his clear love for WI cricket, and came across on mic as a genuinely likeable man. I will miss his soft Bajan accent, another voice of cricket to miss along with CMJ, Benaud and Grieg. I pray that cricket keeps making these lovely characters for us to follow the game with.

  • kal on May 13, 2016, 23:05 GMT

    The words of a good loved person will be missed. May Allah give strength to Tony's family in dealing with great loss.

  • Kalyanaraman on May 13, 2016, 17:30 GMT

    Analysts like Tony Cozier, Richie Benaud, Tony Greig were very much part of what made cricket special and involved the fan in the game. I am now nostalgic that such quality folks are now hard to find.

  • Russell on May 13, 2016, 14:57 GMT

    Well said Brian, a fine tribute indeed to a wonderful broadcaster

  • Bhavik on May 13, 2016, 14:15 GMT

    RIP Tony Cozier. Him,Richie Benaud

  • Devon L on May 13, 2016, 13:34 GMT

    I Grew up with the voice of this Great Legend in my ears as a kid, listening to my little old transistor radio on his commentary of the great West Indies team. A great loss to cricket and cricket journalism. Will truly be missed by many... I would love to attend his funeral.. RIP Tony.. You were dearly Love my friend.

  •   cricfan56675807 on May 13, 2016, 13:29 GMT

    That was a Lara 401 not out innings only for Tony. Very nicely put. Love and respect for Tony Cozier and condolences for the family, from Bangladesh/

  • kent on May 13, 2016, 12:53 GMT

    Certainly (Sir) Tony Cozier represented and stood for the highest ideals and achievements of West Indies cricket. Although some may have disliked his criticisms at times of both West Indies' players, administrators and the recent manner in which the game in the West Indies and by the West Indies was played, he was deeply admired, respected and cherish by many as a gem of the game.

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