A superb innings by Mr Tony Becca

Saturday, March 02, 2019

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Anyone who knew Mr Tony Becca would not be surprised at the glowing tributes being paid to him since news of his passing Thursday morning. Indeed, Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the wider world in general have lost one of this region's best sports scribes ever.

Mr Becca spent most of his journalistic life in newspapers, starting first at Sportslife , a periodical which was published by the now late coach and sports administrator Mr Sydney 'Foggy' Burrowes, after which he served as sports editor of the now defunct Jamaica Daily News in the 1970s and later at The Gleaner in a similar capacity.

Interestingly, many of the accolades being showered on Mr Becca make mention of his coverage of cricket, which was, to say the least, excellent. However, Tony Becca was also adept at reporting on other sporting disciplines, among them table tennis, a game in which he displayed tremendous ability as a player.

Although Mr Becca didn't work at this newspaper, a number of our sports reporters in particular can attest to his professional generosity, offering advice and sharing the experience of his numerous years in sport journalism. Of course, many of those discussions would be tinged with his exceptional wit delivered in like manner to a googly.

Probably one of his defining characteristics was that Mr Becca was never afraid to take and defend strong positions on issues affecting 'the gentleman's game', such as his support for the West Indies rebel tour of South Africa in 1983.

While the West Indians were not the first to break the international sporting ban on Apartheid South Africa, the fact that a team of black players went against the position of the cricket authorities, their own governments and the United Nations rattled the international community.

We recall Mr Becca being engaged in televised public debate on this issue, and while we did not share his view, we could not fault his dogged defence of his position.

Over his career, Mr Becca, who served as president of the Sports Journalists' Association of Jamaica and director of the Sports Writers' Association of the Americas, most fittingly received many awards for his work.

In October 2005 he was inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame in Hartford, Connecticut along with Messrs Anderson Montgomery, Antigua and West Indies fast bowler; Everton “Andy” Roberts; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, the Indian leg spin wizard; the late Alvin “Al” Watson, Hubert Carlyle Miller; and Ms Barbara P Lindo for their outstanding contribution to the development of the sport in the United States.

That recognition placed Tony Becca in the company of great West Indian cricketers Mr Wes Hall, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Mr Lance Gibbs, Mr George Headley, Sir Vivian Richards, Mr Clive Lloyd, Sir Everton Weeks, Mr Gundappa Viswanath, Mr Michael Holding and Australian Mr Greg Chappell.

We agree with Press Association of Jamaica President Mr George Davis that Mr Becca's “longevity and the enduring quality of his work are examples for young and aspiring journalists”. But more important, we hold that Mr Becca played a superb role in helping Caribbean people understand the importance of cricket, and sport in general, to our sovereignty, and the fact that we can achieve greatness regardless of our historical circumstances.

Tony Becca played a superb innings. May he find rest and comfort in God's kingdom.

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