Ted Dexter, former England cricket captain, dies at 86

LONDON (AP) — Ted Dexter, the charismatic former England cricket captain who went on to become the national team’s chief selector and founded the ranking system used by the sport’s governing body, has died. He was 86.

The Marylebone Cricket Club, where Dexter was a former president, said Thursday he died Wednesday surrounded by his family in a hospice following a recent illness.

“Ted was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and one of England’s greatest ever cricketers,” said the MCC, the club regarded as the guardian of the rules of the game.

Dexter, who was born in Milan, was a middle-order batsman who played 62 tests for England from 1958-68, captaining the team 30 times. He scored 4,502 runs and took 66 wickets with his seam bowling. Six of his nine centuries were above 140.

Known as “Lord Ted,” Dexter is remembered for his bravery on the field, showing no fear against fast bowling with his front-foot approach. Some of his most memorable innings came against ferocious West Indies attacks, including centuries in Barbados and Guyana in 1960.

“Ted Dexter was one of the most accomplished batsmen of his era,” acting ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said. “His ability to dominate fast bowling was admirable and his superb batting against the West Indies and Australia teams is remembered by all.”

Away from the field, Dexter was a scratch golfer — at 43, he spent a year trying to reach the British Open and missed a final-hole putt in qualifying to miss out — and a horse racing enthusiast, while he stood as a candidate for the Conservative party in the 1964 general election. He declared himself unavailable for the 1964-65 cricket tour of South Africa.

After his retirement, which was triggered by a car accident in 1965 even though he prolonged his career until 1972, Dexter worked in broadcasting and wrote crime novels, showing again his thirst for variety.

He helped to devise a ranking system for test players that was later adopted by the International Cricket Council and currently exists as the official ICC rankings.

He was chairman of selectors for a declining England team from 1989-93 and was the first to be paid for the role. Among his most controversial decisions was the omission of David Gower from the 1992-93 tour of India, while he memorably got the name of fast bowler Devon Malcolm wrong when talking to the media — “Who could forget Malcolm Devon?” he said — and put a loss to Australia down to “Venus being in juxtaposition with somewhere else.”

He later served the MCC as president and cricket committee chairman.

Former players recounted memories of the much-loved Dexter arriving at cricket matches on a motorbike in his later years and also being well dressed, taking pride in his appearance.

England players wore black armbands in honor of Dexter during the second day of the third test against India at Headingley on Thursday.

“Hope England’s batsmen can put on a show today and that they play with the kind of grace and style and flair that Ted Dexter epitomised,” former England captain Mike Atherton wrote on Twitter.


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