Tony Cozier: The voice of West Indies cricket
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For 50 years, Tony Cozier has been the voice of West Indies cricket. In an interview with BHARAT SUNDARESAN, the legendary commentator spoke about everything from his experience of World Series Cricket to his fractious relationship with Lara and an abortive stint with the IPL.
You turned 73 earlier this week, and a few months ago, you completed a half-century of being the voice of West Indian cricket.
I covered my first Test series in England in 1963 for the Daily News, a Barbados newspaper owned and run by my father Jimmy Cozier. I somehow ended up doing radio work for the BBC and thus began my journey of following West Indies, the most diverse and volatile team in world sport.
Where did it all first start, though?
I went to one of the top schools in Barbados and opened the batting for Lodge School. We would play against first-class players. My first match, I played against Wes Hall, who had already played for the West Indies. But I covered my first Test when I was 15, because my father ran the St. Lucia Voice. Then he sent me to Ottawa University to get a journalism degree. I hated it there. The snow remained on the ground from November to March, and I saw icicles on the windows. I had only seen them in the freezer compartment of the fridge. West Indies were touring India then and I got a radio to listen to BBC and get the scores. Next year, I fiddled with it and the commentary came loud and clear through the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service. And I rarely went to college after that.
But was commentary in your original plans?
You hear the Arlotts and when you were playing, you would do your commentary. But for me it was mainly newspapers, and that's what I thought I would get into. My first proper radio commentary stint was in 1965 here against Australia. They formed the Caribbean Publishing Association and decided that we are going to get a West Indian team of commentators. The legendary Alan McGilvray was here from Down Under. That was my first full Test series.