Former England captain Edward Ralph ‘Ted’ Dexter last played cricket in 1972 but even at 73 remains a keen follower of the game.
“I live in France but I have a Sky dish on my roof so I can follow all the cricket,” says Dexter, here with his wife to celebrate the 50th year of their marriage in the city where she was born and lived till eight.
When in England, Dexter goes to the grounds. “I never pay to watch my cricket,” he says, taking quiet pleasure in the privileges bestowed on chairman of selectors at English venues.
Asked about his favourite current cricketers — the ones he would “pay to watch” — Dexter names V.V.S. Laxman - “I love watching his clean hitting” - Virender Sehwag — “Fantastic player” and Adam Gilchrist — “Though he has retired now”.
“I did not like watching (Matthew) Hayden, even when he was in form, because he goes at the ball in a kind of wooden way,” says Dexter, moving his hands in the air with immobile wrists to imitate the big Hayden heave over the bowler’s head.
But talk to him about the Kevin Pietersen switch-hit and Dexter is full of enthusiasm.
“To hit it, let alone for six, is (phew),” he says. “I always thought that a batsman would come along who would be able to bat both right-handed and left. They do it in baseball, they bat right or left-handed depending on the pitcher.
“It is much easier against some bowlers if you could bat left-handed. Like against Shane Warne, which is the reason why (Brian) Lara did so well against him. He (Warne) did not bowl the googly that well….”
For him, T20 is “a pale shadow of the great game… a good bunch of baseball players will turn out to be very good at it”. But like always with Dexter, there is a catch.
“I don’t like watching the shorter versions, but I enjoyed playing the 40-over, 50-over games,” says Dexter, who captained Sussex to victory in the inaugural 65-overs-a-side Gillette Cup in 1963 and was at the helm when they retained it the following year. “It is more of a team game.”
Dexter is worried about the fate of Tests and the dwindling crowds for the longer version in the subcontinent.
“If Test cricket does’nt survive, it would not be the first time that a beautiful thing has disappeared from this earth,” he says.