Monday, 14 September 2015

Brian Close

I've just heard of the death of Brian Close, the great Yorkshire and Somerset all-rounder. He still holds the record as the youngest player capped by the England selectors. True to form, they dropped him too soon and forgot about him until they needed someone to stand up to the West Indies fast bowlers then cutting a swathe through the world's brightest and best. Next to Wilf Wooller, Brian Close was the bravest batsman John Arlott had known, as he stated in a memorable reminiscence on Test Match Special. Brian Johnston agreed, as this excerpt shows:

Brian Close was one of the bravest cricketers I’ve ever seen. Remember him batting against the West Indies in 1963, against Hall and Griffith? Rather than risk giving a catch, he bared his chest at them and let the ball hit him. You could see the maker’s name all over him. He was very brave and, of course, he always fielded near in at short-leg.
      There’s a story about when Yorkshire were playing Gloucestershire and Martin Young was batting; Ray Illingworth was bowling and Close was right in there at forward short-leg.
      For once, Ray bowled a bit of a short ball outside the off stump, which Martin Young pulled and he got Close above his right eye. The ball ballooned up over Jimmy Binks, the wicket-keeper, and into the hands of Phil Sharpe at first slip – caught!
      Blood was pouring down Close’s face. It didnt’ worry him, he just wiped it away, and fielded for about another ten minutes. Then the lunch interval came and he walked back – blood still pouring down – and as he went in, one of the members said, ‘Mr.Close, you mustn’t stand as near as that. It’s very dangerous. What would have happened if it had hit you slap between the eyes?’
      He said, ‘He’d have been caught at cover!’ (as told by Brian Johnston)

This 70th birthday tribute is also revealing.

In retirement, he was a popular after-dinner speaker no doubt helped by his mordant wit.

1 comment:

Paul Williams said...

We could fill an entire blog with similar stories about him! Outstanding cricketer and captain, RIP Brian.