DateLine: 20th March 2016
Obituary: Brian Close
Dennis Brian Close was one of the most fearless and daring players in the history of Test cricket. He would field at short leg, only about a yard away from the bat and not flinch even when the ball hit him. While batting, he showed remarkable grit, courage and determination facing the fearsome West Indian bowling attack of Wesley Hall and Charlie Griffith in 1963 and later, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel in 1976. There is no other example of such bravery in cricket history, for a batsman to take the fastest deliveries of the world’s quickest bowlers on his body as was exhibited by Brian Close in those series. Such was the impact of this brave approach that even he, later titled his autobiography as “I don’t Bruise Easily”.
He was truly one of cricket’s most emphatic personalities.
Born on 24 February 1931 at Rawdon Leeds, Yorkshire, England, DB Close CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) died at the age of 84 at Baldon, Yorkshire, England, on 14 September 2015.
A left-handed batsman and right arm off-break right arm or medium pace bowler, all-rounder Brian Close’s first class career (1949-1986) spanned over 37 years and only WG Grace’s career (1865-1908) was longer. He holds the record of being the youngest Test cap for England making his debut against New Zealand at Old Trafford at the age of 18 years and 149 days in July 1949. Incidentally, it was also his first season in First-Class cricket. The same year he achieved the “double” (1098 runs and 113 wickets). He again achieved the double in 1952. He scored 1000 runs in a season 20 times.
In 786 First-Class matches he scored 34994 runs (Average 33.26) with the help of 52 hundreds and 171 fifties, claimed 1171 wickets (Average 26.42) and held 813 catches. His tally of catches for a non-wicket keeper is only surpassed by FE Wooley, WG Grace, GAR Lock and WR Hammond.
Despite such a long career, interrupted by controversies and differences with management, he played in only 22 Tests, 1 against New Zealand (1949), 2 against Australia (1950 & 1961), 1 against South Africa (1955), 11 against West Indies (1957, 1963. 1966, 1976), 4 against India (1959 and 1967) and 3 against Pakistan (1967). He scored 887 runs (Average 25.34), took 18 wickets (Average 29.33) and held 24 catches. His highest score in Test matches was 70 at Lords against West Indies in 1963 and his best bowling in a Test innings was 4 for 35 against India at Leeds, Headingley in 1959.
He led England in seven Test matches and won six (1 against West Indies at The Oval 1966), (3 against India at Headingley, Lords and Edgbaston in 1967) and 2 against Pakistan (Trent Bridge and The Oval in 1967). He captained Yorkshire to the county championship 4 times; in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968. He toured Pakistan along with Donald Carr’s MCC ’A’ team in 1955-56. His notable performance on the tour were: 95 not out against Pir-of-Pagaro’s XI at Hyderabad in one-day fixture, 92 against Amir of Bahawalpur’s XI at Bahawalpur, 52 not out versus Combined Universities team at Lahore, 82 versus NWFP-Bahawalpur Association at Sialkot and 71 versus against Pakistan in the fourth Test at Karachi. However his best performance against Pakistan was at Sheffield in 1954 where he scored 123 not out and claimed 4 for 54 to give Yorkshire an outstanding 7 wickets victory. Incidentally, visiting Captain AH Kardar had also scored 139 in that match.
He was Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year 1964.
DB Close during the period 19950-60 also played football for Leeds United, Arsenal and Bradford City.
Alas! one of the bravest-ever cricketer has passed away.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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