Cowdrey was a popular figure on the county circuit who had a long career as a Kent batsman, then worked for the ECB as a cricket liaison officer.
Cowdrey’s father, Colin, and brother, Chris, both captained England, while his grandfather Ernest and nephew Fabian also played first-class cricket.
Cowdrey played more than 400 times across all formats for Kent, scoring 14,000 runs as an aggressive middle-order batsman. Kent confirmed that he had died after a short illness.
“I am numb with shock and sadness that the brilliant, generous, funny and complex friend who lit up so many cricket grounds, on and off the pitch, has slipped away,” said Cowdrey’s former team-mate and captain, Matthew Fleming.
“‘Van’ as he was universally known because of his love of all things Van Morrison, was an instinctive cricketer, a game changer, who won matches with his prowess as a batsman and a fielder.
“However, it was his deep love of cricket and Kent, his commitment as a team-mate, his integrity and his wicked sense of humour, his loyalty as a friend and the ‘twinkle in his eye’ that shaped almost everything he did that we will also remember with the greatest possible affection.”
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison joined the tributes to Cowdrey, saying: “I first met Graham 30 years ago – he was a lovely man and always great company, a very good player, and was a popular and highly respected man in the game.
“This news is a huge shock, and he will be sorely missed by colleagues, players past and present and County cricket fans alike, particularly in Kent where people will be truly devastated. Our thoughts are with the Cowdrey family at this terrible time.”