Close was the youngest player to represent England when he won a Test cap against New Zealand in 1949 at 18 and was one of several senior cricketers selected for duty against the fearsome West Indies a full 27 years later.
Yorkshire issued a statement confirming that Close had died on Sunday, and described him as “one of Yorkshire and England’s greatest ever captains and one of the game’s most courageous players”.
In his 37 years in the game, Close scored almost 35,000 runs and guided recently-crowned County Champions Yorkshire to four domestic titles before overseeing an upturn in Somerset’s fortunes and helping to mould the careers of Sir Viv Richards and Sir Ian Botham at Taunton.
Paying tribute to the previous participant, Yorkshire CCC wrote on Twitter, “It is with deep unhappiness that former Yorkshire & England star Brian Close has handed away”.
His county career, mostly with Yorkshire, but afterwards with Somerset, spanned 29 summers, during which, on no fewer than twenty occasions, he hit 1,000 runs in a season, and twice took 100 wickets.
RIP to a Yorkshire great Brian Close.
Throughout, in an era where batsmen’s protection was limited to pads, box and thigh-pad – not a helmet in sight – Close was unflinching at the crease, or at short-leg.
Yorkshireman Close captained England in seven of his 22 Test Matches and was a member of MCC touring teams to Australia (1950-51) and Pakistan (1955-56). His toughness was legendary.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club captain Andrew Gale said: “Brian Close was a legend”.
His lust for victory was magnified by his election as Yorkshire’s captain in 1963.
In later years he developed into an outstanding captain, a motivator and wily gambler, and above all a man who led from the front. He’d take bowlers off if they did not stick to his plans. The title of his autobiography, I Don’t Bruise Easily, summed up his approach to the game and life.
“When they called him back in 1976 to play aged 44 against the West Indies, he didn’t say ‘no I’m an old man I can not do that'”.
“He had the knack of taking wickets with full tosses and what have you, and I can remember him dismissing Kent’s Brian Luckhurst with a long hop which he hit straight to mid-wicket”.
‘The batsman pulled the ball, it hit him on the head and it flew to cover.
It’s a sad day to see him pass away.
Bird also recollected how Close was instrumental in developing young players in his tenure as the captain for Yorkshire.
“Will always remember bowling to Closey in the indoor nets as he did his pre-season preparation to captain the YCCAcademy at 65yr old!” Close thought his bowling career was over and was playing purely as a batsman when, in 1954, Bob Appleyard’s brilliant career appeared to be coming to an end (he was finally to retire in 1958).