London: Former England Test captain Ted Dexter, one of the country’s greatest players, has died aged 86 after a recent illness, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said on Thursday.
Dexter, nicknamed “Lord Ted”, was an aggressive batsman and part-time seam bowler who played 62 Tests for England after making his debut in 1958 against New Zealand.
He captained England and Sussex in the early 1960s.
“After a recent illness, he passed away peacefully in the Compton Hospice in Wolverhampton at midday yesterday, surrounded by his family,” MCC said in a statement. “Ted was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and one of England’s greatest ever cricketers.”
Dexter, who was England captain for 30 matches, “played the game with the same sense of adventure and fun that captures much of the story of his remarkable life,” the MCC added.
Dexter scored 4,502 runs at an average of 47.89 during his Test career and took 66 wickets at an average of 34.93.
As a cricket administrator, Dexter became chairman of the England selectors between 1989 and 1993. He was later appointed president of MCC and awarded a CBE in 2001.
Dexter also developed a Test players’ ranking system that was formally adopted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2003 and forms the basis of the governing body’s current Test rankings.
The ICC’s acting chief executive Geoff Allardice said Dexter was “one of the most accomplished batsmen of his era.
“His ability to dominate fast bowling was admirable and... he also made notable contributions to the game in various capacities post-retirement...,” Allardice said in a statement.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also paid tribute to Dexter, who was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in June.
“Ted Dexter was someone who always went out of his way to offer so much great advice to me and many others ... seeing him arrive for lunch on his motorbike and then sit and listen to him discuss all cricketing issues was always a joy,” Vaughan said on Twitter.
An excellent all-round athlete, his sporting prowess was honed at renowned British private school Radley College - and blossomed at Cambridge University where he captained both cricket and golf teams.
“I was to distinguish myself by failing to attend one lecture all the time I was there,” he said.
Blessed with a corinthian and cavalier spirit on and off the pitch the latter no more so than when he withdrew from the 1964-65 tour of South Africa to be the Conservative Party candidate challenging Labour heavyweight Jim Callaghan.
Needless to say, Dexter was routed by a man who would go on a decade later to become Prime Minister.
However, England offered him solace in defeat and he ended up travelling to South Africa and soothed his wounded pride with a magnificent 172 in the Christmas Test in Johannesburg.
Aside from being a keen and very good golfer - he toyed with the idea of turning professional - he was also a horseracing enthusiast.
He regularly brought portable radios and televisions to dressing rooms to check in at the track.
“I started on the road to near ruin,” he commented later on his gambling.
His career was brought to an abrupt halt when he broke his leg when he was in the process of pushing his Jaguar which had run out of petrol off the road - needless to say after a trip to the racecourse.
Showing his traditional grit and determination, he returned to the Test side three years later but his best days were behind him.