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Full name Peter Anthony West
Born August 12, 1920, Addiscombe, Surrey
Died September 2, 2003, Bath (aged 83 years 21 days)
Other Commentator, Journalist, Author
WEST, PETER ANTHONY, who died on September 2, 2003, aged 83, was the beaming and unflustered front man for BBC's televised cricket coverage for nearly 20 years until his retirement in 1986. The smile was genuine: Peter West was a charming and courteous man with a boyish enthusiasm for sport that never left him. But he had an acute sense of the need to marry sport and commerce, and his most lasting contribution may well be as a pioneer of sporting sponsorship. At Cranbrook School he won colours at five games and was captain of cricket for three years: post-war employment as a sports reporter for the Exchange Telegraph agency seemed the perfect job. His break came in 1947 while covering cricket at Taunton. C. B. Fry's telephonist failed to materialise and West offered to phone his copy through. In return Fry, liking the clarity of the young man's voice, promised a recommendation to the BBC, with West wisely not letting on that he had already failed a newsreading audition. By August he was commentating on the South African tour and a year later was covering the London Olympics. He was in the commentary team when the BBC first televised Test cricket nationally in 1952 - he had been doing rugby since 1950 - and soon made his debut at Wimbledon. Aside from sport he hosted light entertainment programmes, and from 1957 to 1972, much to the amusement of the rugby fraternity, West was the dinnerjacketed compère of Come Dancing. There was even a stint presenting Miss World. He also set up the Playfair cricket and rugby annuals, editing the former until 1953, wrote books on the 1953 and 1956 Ashes, covered cricket for The Times, and was their rugby correspondent for 11 years. In 1970 he set up the sports marketing agency West Nally, which married the entrepreneurial vision of Patrick Nally with West's reputation and ambassadorial skills. The company were involved with the Benson and Hedges Cup from its start in 1972 and, five years later, managed Cornhill Insurance's ground-breaking sponsorship of Test matches in England. After retiring from television, West was offered the chance to cover the 1986-87 Ashes tour for the Daily Telegraph. He leapt at the chance to fill in one of the last gaps in his sporting CV, understandably imagining that the Telegraph expected him to cover the cricket in his own Corinthian and by then rather oldfashioned way. Instead, a tragi-comic few months ensued, with the Telegraph, which was in a confused period, sending increasingly testy messages demanding that West match the latest revelations or speculations in the tabloids. The experience did produce one last cricket book, Clean Sweep, to sit alongside his engaging memoir, Flannelled Fool and Muddied Oaf. West then headed for a happy retirement in the West Country, cultivating his garden.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack