Former England and Yorkshire cricket captain Brian Close has passed away aged 84.
Close was the youngest person ever to play Test cricket for England after making his debut against New Zealand in 1949 as an 18-year-old.
A statement from Yorkshire CCC read: “It is with the deepest regret that Yorkshire County Cricket Club announce the death of Brian Close, CBE, one of Yorkshire and England’s greatest ever captains and one of the game’s most courageous players.
“Brian, who was 84 and lived at Baildon, near Bradford, died on Sunday.
“In addition to his outstanding cricket career, Brian remained fully committed to Yorkshire until the end, being a Life Member of the club and president from 2008-2010. He was also a popular former President of the Yorkshire CCC Players’ Association.”
The famously brave batsman – who often refused to wear a helmet – went on to lead his country seven times in 22 Tests, and also captained his native county to win four county championship titles.
Remarkably, Close also played football for Arsenal, Leeds United and Bradford City as a youngster.
Yorkshire will wear black armbands for Monday’s match against Hampshire as a mark of respect.
Legendary umpire and current Yorkshire president Dickie Bird has described Close as an “all-time great”.
Bird, who represented the county during Close’s time there, believes his leadership qualities and fearless approach were what made him stand out.
“Brian Close was an all-time great, both of Yorkshire and England,” Bird said.
“He will go down as one of the bravest cricketers of all time. He would stand at short-leg, about a yard away from the bat, and would never flinch if the ball hit him. He would take it in his stride and carry on.
“As a captain, his record speaks for itself. He is Yorkshire’s most successful post-war captain – winning the County Championship on four occasions – and will always be regarded as one of the best skippers in the game.
“He led from the front and never took a back step. He commanded huge respect from his fellow players. He had the ability to get the best out of every player under his stewardship with his fearless and brave approach to the game.” – [London Mirror]