One of the most popular characters to play county cricket in recent times, East is remembered as much for his on field wit as his fine slow left arm spin bowling. For many years he formed an effective 'spin twin' partnership with David Acfield and helped his Essex team mates break their historic trophy drought to challenge at the top of county and one day cricket.
He played 405 matches for Essex from 1965 to 1984 and in 410 matches in all. He took 1019 wickets at 25.72, with five wickets in an innings 49 times, ten in a match ten times and a career best of 8 for 30. He scored 7178 runs at 17.72 in the lower order, with one hundred (113) and held 256 catches. He took 269 list A one-day wickets at 24.59 with a best of 6–18, although he once went for 79 in 8 overs in a Sunday league match.
He was a member of the Derrick Robins XI that toured South Africa in 1973.