Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Editorial | Becca was a decent human being

Published:Monday | March 4, 2019 | 12:10 AM

Tony Becca was one of those persons who needn’t have feared any breach of the saying, ‘never speak ill of the dead’. Except in his case, it was in both life and death.

Indeed, much has been said of Mr Becca as a cricket writer since his death on Thursday, age 78, almost all of which is indisputable and well-deserved.

Tony Becca didn’t write with the flourish of a Cardus, or the crispness of his West Indian contemporary, Tony Cozier. But, as C.L.R. James might have observed about people who appreciated the skill represented in Matthew Bondman’s ferocious square cuts, St Hill’s wristy deflections to leg, or Headley’s mastery of sticky dogs, Tony Becca knew his cricket. He brought knowledge and insight to his reportage of the game.

But Mr Becca had another contextual importance to West Indian cricket. His emergence was contemporaneous with the regional team’s near-two decades of global dominance, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, and embracing of the transformative five-one mauling Clive Lloyd’s men received during the 1975-76 tour of Australia, which Mr Becca covered for the now defunct Jamaica Daily News.

The significance of this is that except for Mr Cozier, who started his international career a decade earlier, reporting on the West Indies 1966 tour to England for the Barbados Advocate, no other Caribbean writer, until Mr Becca, routinely toured with the regional team. Mr Becca went on to cover more than 150 Test matches, chronicling the exploits of, among others, Lloyd, Richards, Kallicharran, Haynes, Holding, Roberts, and Garner, sometimes telling us of their failings, foibles, missteps and misdemeanours.He helped to place Jamaican and West Indian cricket fans at the centre of events, directly connected to the team without the need for ‘foreign’ interlocutors.

Journalism with restraint

But his reportage, in a style of journalism that is always subject to debate, was always with restraint. Or, as his friend and colleague, the Guyanese cricket commentator Reds Perreira, put it: “He was a gentleman cricket writer in every sense. He would not write anything that he was told off the record.”

Tony Becca, a soft-spoken and innately decent man, brought the same restraint to his domestic journalism and general engagements, including his long presidency of his beloved Melbourne Cricket Club.

Few, and doubtfully anyone, spoke ill of him.

Cricket has lost a stalwart and Jamaica, a genuinely decent human being.