Brian Close

Died when: 84 years 201 days
Star Sign: Pisces

Dennis Brian Close, CBE (24 February 1931 – 13 September 2015) was an English cricketer, the youngest man ever to play Test cricket for England. He was picked to play against New Zealand in July 1949, when he was 18 years old. Close went on to play 22 Test matches for England, captaining them seven times (six wins, one draw). Close also captained Yorkshire to four county championship titles – the main domestic trophy in English cricket. He later went on to captain Somerset, where he is widely credited with developing the county into a hard-playing team, and helping to mould Viv Richards and Ian Botham into the successful players they became. Throughout his cricket career, which lasted from 1948 until the 1977 season, Close was one of the most charismatic and well-known cricketers. He scored almost 35,000 runs as a batsman, including 52 centuries with a highest innings score of 198. He also took 1,168 dismissals as a bowler, and over 800 catches as a fielder (and one stumping, as a stand-in wicket-keeper). At just over six feet (1.83 m) tall he was a noticeable presence on the field, often fielding at the short leg position, close to the batsman. As cricketers did not use head or body protection in Close's day, he would often get hurt when a batsman struck a ball that hit him. Close was also noted, as a batsman, for standing up to intimidatory bowling, letting the ball hit his unprotected torso rather than flinching. Close was known as a cricketing gambler; he was prepared to take risks and to court controversy throughout his career. He was serving a "confined to barracks" punishment during his military service when selected for his first international cricket tour to Australia in 1950, was sacked as England captain for timewasting, and later sacked by Yorkshire for his lukewarm attitude to one-day cricket. He was also accused of not giving enough support to younger Yorkshire cricketers. He attracted further criticism by touring apartheid South Africa and white-minority-controlled Rhodesia with private teams. As chairman of Yorkshire's cricket subcommittee he had many run-ins with the then Yorkshire captain, Geoffrey Boycott. However, he continued to serve Yorkshire cricket, and in his seventies was coaching and occasionally captaining the county's Colts XI.

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