Cricket Expert & Columnist
Michael Atherton pays tribute to former England captain Ted Dexter, who has passed away at the age of 86. “He had this great love of life and I think that’s what you took from him – that the game was there to be enjoyed and you should try to leave your mark on it and he certainly did”
Last Updated: 26/08/21 10:27am
It’s a very sad day for English cricket as Ted was an icon of the English game.
He was a great post-war batsman and an England captain as well; while it’s a sad day, he lived a very full and varied life.
He was a great family man and a great sportsman, not just at cricket but he was a brilliant golfer too; they all say he was the best of the cricketer-golfers and could easily have turned professional in golf had he turned his attentions to that game.
Ted was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and one of @englandcricket‘s greatest ever cricketers.
He was captain in 30 of his 62 Test matches and played the game with the same sense of adventure and fun that captures much of the story of his remarkable life.
— Marylebone Cricket Club (@MCCOfficial) August 26, 2021
But it was cricket that held him and he was a batsman of real dash and flair – somebody who stood up to fast bowlers in days when there were no helmets.
He is most remembered, I think, for an innings against West Indies in 1963 when he thrashed Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith around.
It was only an innings of 70 but it just goes to show that sometimes you are remembered for how you played the game as much as the number of runs that you scored.
He also influenced the game in many ways – for example, he was the man who devised the rankings system by which you could go back in time and measure and match players of yesteryear against today’s players.
Terribly sad to hear that Ted Dexter has died. Wonderful cricketer, great and wise theorist on the game, incredible golfer, terrific company. What a life. Condolences to Sue and family. RIP Ted.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) August 26, 2021
He was not really a numbers man – he didn’t care for players who just ground out big scores – but the reason he did that was he wanted players who have an impact on the game, who played match-winning innings to be measured.
He kind of dragged the game into the modern age. The Sixties was quite a dour decade for Test cricket but Ted was right at the vanguard of one-day cricket and his county, Sussex, won the inaugural Gillette Cup in 1963 and again in 1964.
Of course, he was also chairman of selectors from 1989 to 1993, which coincided with the start of my career – he gave me my first England cap – and then made me England captain, although he resigned the post shortly afterwards!
To be honest, he was a bit of an eccentric. England captains who worked with him remember that occasionally he’d turn up to meetings on his motorbike and in his leathers.
He had this great kind of flair for life; he really wanted to embrace life in all of its possibilities so, in fact, when he finished playing and he went to Australia as a journalist, he flew his family in a plane over there.
He had this great love of life and I think that’s what you took from him – that the game was there to be enjoyed and you should try to leave your mark on it and he certainly did.
I was very fond of him; he was a very nice man. He loved talking about batting – he was a great theorist, actually, about technique and the technicalities of batting.
He loved players who batted in a classical manner – so, for example, he loved Joe Root, who is England’s best player.
I hope that England and Joe can put on a show today that would be a fitting way to remember Ted.