THE world of cricket is today in mourning following the death of Brian Close.
The former Yorkshire and England captain has passed away at the age of 84 following a long battle with cancer.
Click the video screen to see Close’s bravery against West Indies’ Michael Holding
The news comes just two days after Yorkshire won back-to-back County Championships for the first time since Close led them to a hat-trick of titles between 1966-1968.
And it has cast a shadow over the current Yorkshire side, who are down in Southampton today for their penultimate match of the season against Hampshire.
One of the greatest cricketers this country has produced, Close was a left-hand batsman, right-arm bowler and fearless fielder.
The comedian, Eric Morecambe, famously said that all he had to do tell when the cricket season had begun was listen out for the sound of Close being hit by the ball.
A man of legendary toughness, Close was the youngest player to represent England at the age of 18 in 1949.
He was in-and-out of the Test side thereafter and lost favour with the selectors after trying to hit Richie Benaud out of the attack in the 1961 Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
Close captained Yorkshire with great distinction but was eventually sacked and moved down to Somerset, where he was held in great esteem by such as Viv Richards and Ian Botham.
Close was famously recalled to the Test side in 1976, at the age of 45, and showed tremendous bravery against the West Indies pace attack.
Close scored just under 35,000 first-class runs and took over 1,100 wickets.
He remained a regular visitor to Headingley cricket ground despite his deteriorating health. He leaves a widow, Vivien, and a son, Lance, and a daughter, Lyn.
As tributes began to pout in for Close, former umpire and Yorkshire’s current president Dickie 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.”
Current Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale said