Former England captain Ted Dexter has been remembered as someone who “squeezed every last drop out of his life” after his death at the age of 86.
The MCC announced the death of its former president on Thursday, triggering an outpouring of memories of a man remembered as much for his way of life as his cricketing prowess.
Dexter won 62 England caps and captained the side on 30 occasions, while away from the game he was free-spirited with a love of fast cars, motorbikes, horse racing and golf.
His playing style was fearless, loving nothing more than standing up to the ferocious West Indian pace attacks, while after his playing career he spent time as a broadcaster, a novel writer and eventually, England’s chairman of selectors.
“People won’t remember him for numbers, they will remember the way he played the game,” Mike Atherton, given his England debut by Dexter, said on Sky Sports. “He was a great stylist who played with great flair and adventure.
“It’s a day to celebrate a full and varied life, 86 – he squeezed every last drop out of life. I was very fond of him. He gave me my first cap and made me captain – and then resigned during my first game!
“You’re remembered for how you played, rather than the numbers and he played the game the right way. He’d turn up to selection meetings on his bike in his leathers, with his suit underneath with the averages in a briefcase.
“He was one of those people who lived life to the full.”
Announcing the news, the MCC said of the former Sussex man: “After a recent illness he passed away peacefully in the Compton Hospice in Wolverhampton at midday yesterday, surrounded by his family.
“Ted was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and one of England’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.”
Dexter scored 4,502 Test runs as a powerful middle-order batsman and took 66 wickets. He scored nine Test hundreds and averaged just under 48.
“Sussex Cricket is deeply saddened to learn of the death of former player, captain and club president, Ted Dexter CBE. Ted was surrounded by his family when he died on Wednesday after a recent illness,” Dexter’s former county said in tribute.
Dexter skippered Sussex to the first two limited-overs trophy in their history while on the international stage, his front-foot approach to challenges was what set him apart.
He was famed for showing no fear against fast bowling and some of his most memorable innings for his country came against ferocious West Indies attacks, including centuries in Barbados and Guyana in 1960.
Dexter was a huge fan of current England captain Joe Root who told Sky: “It’s a really sad day, ex-captain and selector, played a huge amount for England, a brilliant servant to the game, it’s terribly sad to hear and hopefully we can put on a performance in his memory.”
“I never had the pleasure of spending much time with him, but he did send me some emails out of the blue when I wasn’t playing so well telling me how to get back to where I was.”
Another player-turned-broadcaster, Mark Nicholas, added: “Ted Dexter has gone – boyhood hero, teacher and dear friend. He was one of the great players and did as much or more than anyone to drag cricket into the modern age. Charlie Watts and Ted, in the space of 24 hours – icons of the 60’s in very different ways – sadness indeed..”
Acting ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said: “Ted Dexter was one of the most accomplished batsmen of his era. His ability to dominate fast bowling was admirable and his superb batting against the West Indies and Australia teams is remembered by all.
England’s players wore black armbands to remember Dexter as they took to the field for day two of their third Test with India at Headingley.