Category Archives: Mason & Guests – the only cricket show

Tony Cozier tributes from around the world

17th May 2016

The Mason & Guests Show

From around the world the tributes have poured in, and continue to appear, for the Caribbean’s greatest ever cricket writer and broadcaster, Tony Cozier.

He was the voice of cricket in the region, and for the region, and he died thirty-five years to the day after the Caribbean lost another of its greatest voices, Jamaica’s Bob Marley.

This son of Barbados elicited universal admiration, praise and love – and here is just a selection of the things said about him:

Michael Holding said he was “the doyen of West Indies cricket… he’s right up there with Garry Sobers.”

Clive Lloyd said he was “an iconic figure… a great man… the pen which wrote of our exploits.”

Viv Richards said “everything he touched where cricket is concerned was just marvellous.”

Joel Garner said “cricket is richer having been blessed by his excellent contribution.”

Darren Sammy said “that voice will be forever in my head.”

Reds Perreira said “an iconic loss, an iconic cricket voice… we will miss him more and more as the weeks and months go by because he is irreplaceable.”

Tony Becca said “I have never met a more decent man in my life.”

Fazeer Mohammed said “his body of work compiled over fifty years as a journalist, radio and television broadcaster is unparalleled… both in terms of quantity and exceptional quality.”

Sean Devers said “if I had three words to describe (him) they would be professional, informative and compassionate.”

Vaneisa Baksh said “Test cricket began for West Indies in 1928. For more than half its history, Tony Cozier was its voice.”

Zorol Barthley said he “kept the Caribbean fans informed, updated and represented during those long, dark nights from far-away places. We ‘watched’ our Test Matches on our radios through his voice.”

Noel Lynch said he was “the conscience of cricket in the region.”

Mike Atherton said “he was the best of the Caribbean: warm, funny, welcoming, hospitable and cool. Quick to laugh; slow to judge.”

Simon Hughes said he was “the finest man ever to inhabit a commentary box”.

Harsha Bhogle said he “adorned our game… (and) loved it like a child and a parent.”

Sambit Bal said “cricket was his way of life… his heart bled for West Indian cricket.”

Virender Sehwag said he was “champagne on air.”

Mike Selvey said he was “the manifestation of West Indies cricket.”

Mike Dickson said he had “a voice with a melodic lilt that brought to mind waves gently lapping on a Caribbean beach.”

And Greg Baum said “one of cricket’s most distinguished and distinct voices is now forever quiet, and that demands a minute of silence from us. In it, we might be able to hear him in the back of our minds one last time.”

That’s a fine idea.

David Oram

Tony Cozier tribute

11th May 2016

The Mason & Guests Show

The Caribbean’s greatest ever cricket writer and broadcaster has died aged 75. His loss will be felt not just in the West Indies, but throughout the world. In his home island, Barbados the national radio station VoB produced a special edition of the  Mason & Guests show to mark his passing – and I was asked to provide a brief recorded tribute to him. You can read it below and listen to it here:

The Caribbean has lost one of its true greats.

Tony Cozier was the trusted voice of cricket in the region for fifty years; he catalogued the West Indies’ rise to greatness, and fall from its pedestal. He was intelligent, insightful, analytical, critical and most of all honest.

For at least three generations of cricket lovers he told us what we needed to know about the region’s cricket, helped us to understand, to learn from the successes and failures and documented the modern history of the greatest sporting team the world has ever known.

His was the voice that brought us the news of triumphs and disasters, victories and defeats, glories and ignominies. Tony Cozier spoke to us in our living rooms, in our bedrooms, our kitchens, our cars, bars, and rum shops. We heard him everywhere – and we listened.

Tony Cozier could be heard on our televisions, on our radios and in our newspapers. He wrote books, columns for newspapers and in the modern age for websites too. He was the man we turned to to learn what was happening in West Indies cricket, both on and off the field.

We knew him, admired him and loved him. He communicated with us all, and did so like no other, either in the Caribbean or for that matter, the whole world.

His loss is profound. It’ll be felt not just in the region, but internationally. The tributes to him will pour in from all over, and be heartfelt and generous. He was popular, knowledgable and phenomenally professional. He will be missed throughout the entire cricketing community.

Tony Cozier was a man of the world, and of the West Indies, of Barbados and his beloved club, the Wanderers.

Charting the golden years of West Indies glory through to the modern age with its trials and tribulations, he unerringly and unflinchingly reported events as he saw them – with the skill of the great writer and broadcaster that he was, with an awareness and scholarly appreciation of the past, a journalistic astuteness of the present, and a view to the future.

He mapped for everyone the unfolding narrative of West Indies cricket, and never missed a ball. He had an eye for the nuance of events, and a keen listening ear – and he communicated it all to his listeners – providing both the bigger picture and the intimate detail.

Quite simply he was the greatest writer and broadcaster on the game the Caribbean has ever known. And as a multi-talented commentator for both television and radio he was without doubt the world’s finest.

It is fitting that the West Indies have once again been recently crowned, three times, as he passes – for it was he more than any other who brought us the story of the great days.

The Mason & Guests show pays tribute to Tony Cozier and sends prayers and condolences to his family and friends.

We will not see as a great a broadcaster as him ever again.

David Oram

Rangy Nanan tribute

29th March 2016

The Mason & Guests Show

Former Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies off-spinner, Rangy Nanan died last week aged 62 following a heart-attack. He had been in declining health for some time. The Mason & Guests show asked me to provide and record a brief tribute to him. You can read it below and listen to it here:

Spare a thought this week for the passing of Rangy Nanan, who died last Wednesday aged 62. One of the Caribbean’s finest off-spinners, he took 272 wickets for Trinidad & Tobago between 1973-1991, & 366 in all 1st-class cricket at 23.1 in 94 matches.

He played in a solitary Test match in Pakistan in 1980 & took 4 wickets: Imran Khan, Wasim Raja, Abdul Qadir & Iqbal Qasim, as West Indies won by 156 runs, & eventually won the 4-Test series 1-0.

But in an era when the West Indies were blessed with a plethora of great quicks, successive captains stuck rigidly to their 4-fast bowler game plan, & Nanan didn’t feature again – although he remains, uniquely, the only Test cricketer with a palindromic surname.

Rangy Nanan was generally regarded as the best spin bowler in the Caribbean throughout the 1980s, his best year being 1986 when he picked up 33 wickets in 6 games at 15.3.

He captained Trinidad & Tobago from 1984-1991, skippering them to the 1985 Shell Shield title, their only such triumph in a thirty-year period from 1976-2006. At the time of his retirement he was the all-time leading wicket-taker in the 1st-class regional competition.

Post-playing he was a policeman, a liaison officer for the West Indies cricket team, & he was inducted into the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board’s Hall of Fame in 2015. TTCB President, Azim Bassarath said, “Rangy was one of a kind.”

Former West Indies manager, Omar Khan observed that Nanan was “a consumate professional… and a great servant to Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies cricket.”

While Brian Lara said, “I learnt a lot about the art of playing spin bowling from him,” adding, “I will miss him.”

In a press release the WICB expressed its regret at the passing of Nanan, and offered “condolences to his family and close friends”, sentiments echoed by Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Sport & Youth Affairs, the Honourable Darryl Smith.

The Mason & Guests show would like to add its thoughts and prayers to those mentioned, and salutes the memory of Rangy Nanan.

David Oram

Martin Crowe tribute

8th March 2016

The Mason & Guests Show

New Zealand great Martin Crowe lost his battle with cancer last week. I was asked to write and record a tribute to him, which you can read below, and hear here.

The cricket world lost one of its greats last week with the passing of Martin Crowe. His death from cancer aged 53 is a profound blow to New Zealand, who have lost arguably their greatest ever batsman only a few short months after the death of one of their greatest rugby union stars, Jonah Lomu, aged 40 in November.

Crowe played in 77 Tests between 1982 & 1995, scoring nearly five & a half thousand runs at 45.3 with 17 centuries, including a numerically agonizing 299 versus Sri Lanka in 1991. He featured in a further 143 ODIs, & in total amassed well over 10,000 international runs. His record against the great West Indies teams of the period is particularly impressive: he hit 544 runs in 7 Tests with 3 hundreds, including 188 at Georgetown in 1985 off an attack of Marshall, Garner, Holding & Clyde Butts.

He was also an outstanding fielder; & a useful & surprisingly sharp seamer – as attested to by Franklyn Stephenson, who on Line & Length recalled how Crowe nearly knocked his block off with a bouncer at the Scarborough Festival in England.

As a captain, he was inspiring & imaginative; most notably with his innovative tactics during the 1992 World Cup – when he effectively introduced the use of the pinch-hitter at the top of the batting order; & opened the bowling with spin to take the pace of the hard, new ball.

He was a New Zealand Young Cricketer of the Year in 1981; a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1985; Player of the Tournament in the 1992 World Cup; made an MBE the same year; appeared as an extra in the Academy Award winning film Gladiator starring his first cousin Russell Crowe in 2000; & inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2015.

He was a broadcaster, commentator and original thinker on the game – & an excellent ruminative writer for ESPN Cricinfo. In 1995 he published his first attempt at autobiography, ‘Out On a Limb’ which as Gideon Haigh recalled was perhaps ‘too self-justifying’. The same year a controversial ‘unauthorised’ biography of him by Joseph Romanos called ‘Tortured Genius’ appeared. “He did me better than I did me,” Crowe said.

Nearly twenty years later, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he made a second attempt at autobiography: ‘Raw’, in collaboration with his former biographer, Romanos. It displayed a contemplative, analytical mind and maturity; a richer, more fully rounded character study.

Crowe in middle-age found an honesty and self-deprecation he’d formerly lacked – and an ability for jocularity occasionally displayed in his embracing of social media. In an amusing Twitter exchange with Australian podcaster, Dennis Freedman – who’d criticised the ‘egg and bacon’ neckwear of the MCC members – Crowe tweeted to Dennis that he had a spare tie of theirs, and ‘would he like one?’ Dennis, naturally answered ‘that he’d love one’. Martin wittily replied:

“Well, best you make a hundred at Lord’s then. That’s how I got mine.”

I was privileged to be at Lord’s to witness in person that innings for which he earned his first MCC tie, his elegant 106 v England in 1986, coming in at number four with the score 5-2 – the same Test Match in which England used four different wicket-keepers in the course of New Zealand’s first innings.

I didn’t see his ‘spare tie’ innings: 142 in 1994 – but I cherish the memory of the first – as I’m sure he did its motley-coloured silk symbol – highly appropriate for this silky batsman, and colourful human being.

The Mason & Guests show salutes Martin Crowe and cherishes his memory.

David Oram

Sir Everton Weekes tribute

1st March 2016

The Mason & Guests Show

Sir Everton Weekes has turned 91, and I was asked to write and record an introduction to the legend, which you can read below, and hear here.

The full edition of the show will hopefully soon become available to listen to here.

One of Barbados’ greatest living legends turned 91 last Friday, & this programme would like to add its own tribute to the magnificent Sir Everton de Courcy Weekes, KCMG, GCM, OBE.

Scorer of 4,455 Test runs at 58.61 with 15 centuries – & joint record holder for the fastest to 1,000 Test runs in just 12 inngs in a sequence that reads: 35, 25, 36, 20, 36, 141, 128, 194, 162, 101, 90 & 56. Those 5 successive 100s remain a Test record, & the subsequent knock, dismissed 10 short of a 6th successive ton, was a dubious run-out decision in India. 

An all-time batting great, he totaled over 12,000 runs in a 1st-class career that spanned 20 yrs from 1945-1964, & was later a coach, commentator, administrator & an ICC intl match referee.

He was an Indian cricketer of the year in 1949; a Wisden cricketer of the year in 1951; & was inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009. Knighted in 1995, Sir Everton was also an army Lance-Corporal, a Justice of the Peace, & represented Barbados at both bridge & soccer – appropriate for a man named by his father after an English football team.

Former Prime Minister, Owen Arthur said of him: “Through his excellence on the cricket field, Sir Everton helped in a fundamental way to change Barbados for the better, forever, by proving that true excellence cannot be constrained by social barriers”; while the WICB’s President, Dave Cameron saluted his birthday, saying: “The region & the world celebrate with Sir Everton & we wish him the best for this special occasion.”

The Mason & Guests show echoes & endorses those sentiments, & extend Sir Everton Weekes the best of wishes, good health & happiness.

David Oram