When Bob Tickler called me to say he was having dinner with Ted Dexter in Nice and would I like to join them I virtually set off for Gatwick straightway. Ted Dexter: the debonair, swashbuckling batsman that put the West Indian attack of Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith to the sword for an unforgettable 70 in the greatest Test ever at Lords; captain of Sussex and England; chairman of selectors; commentator; with his model wife Sue the Beckham of his day; in an era of speedsters like Hall and Griffith, MacKenzie and Hawke and no weak Test nations, he had a test average of 47. Of course I would accept.
As is often the case I found Ted different to my preconceptions. Now over 80 but playing golf to a handicap of less than his age, you could still appreciate the finely-honed patrician facial features and his imposing physical presence. He was a courteous even humble man who in the course of our dinner at the Boccaccio restaurant did not disparage anyone. As always too you feel privileged to learn of aspects of his life you never knew: that his father won the Military Cross at the Somme and was the only officer to survive combat from day one to Armistice; that he had many meetings with Honeywell to devise for televsion more accessible formats of statistics; as chairman he insisted on an A tour to ease the transition from county to Test cricket; that Jim Parks had an incredible eye for a ball though it was me that informed him that Jim Parks was the only wicketkeeper to take a Test wicket.
As I walked back along the streets of the old quarter on a night that was still balmy I felt truly privileged to have such enjoyable company. I’m not really one for those big glitzy sports dinners at an anonymous hotel function room with indifferent food, 200 guests, endless auctions, comedians, raffles and quizzes. A quiet meal in comfy surrounds with fine wine food is much the more life-enhancing.