Mark Nicholas - Goodbye Ted Dexter, free spirit, cricket thinker, renaissance man | RopSport
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Mark Nicholas – Goodbye Ted Dexter, free spirit, cricket thinker, renaissance man



The England and Sussex captain had aura, flair, majestic batting, and impossible glamour – and that was just on the field

I don’t know when the Ted Dexter affectation started but I can guess. The last thing my father did with me before he died so young was to take me to see the 1968 Gillette Cup final at Lord’s. This was during Ted’s short comeback and when the great man strode to the wicket, I leapt about in excitement, cheering his name for all I was worth. He didn’t get many but no matter, I had seen him live. That evening Dad bowled to me in the garden as I imitated every Dexter mannerism and stroke I had seen just a few hours before.

“There is about Dexter, when he chooses to face fast bowling with determination, a sort of air of command that lifts him above ordinary players. He seems to find time to play the fastest bowling and still retain dignity, something near majesty, as he does it.”
John Arlott

I fell for the aura, and for the flair in those back-foot assaults on fast bowlers. Not for a minute do I think I saw the 70 in 75 balls against Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith at Lord’s in 1963 but I feel as if I did – the power, the poise, the sheer gall of it. Nothing, not even the Beatles, could drag me from the television screen when he walked to the wicket, seemingly changing the picture from black-and-white to glorious technicolor as he took guard. Frankly, much of the Test cricket of the time was pretty dull but there was a frisson, an expectation, with Ted, just as there is when Ben Stokes is on his way today. It was all too brief, he had retired for good before I started proper school.