R.I.P. Brian Close

I heard today of the death, at the age of 84, of former Yorkshire and England cricketer Brian Close. Close was an abrasive character whose personality made him more than a few enemies, but he had a very successful playing career and was a tough but effective captain both on the field an in the dressing room. Above all, he was an exceptionally brave batsman. I can think of no better example than this video of him facing Michael Holding (“Whispering Death”) at Old Trafford in 1976. He struggles to lay bat on ball and is hit several times on the body but he always gets into line. This is from an era in which batsmen didn’t wear head protection; this nearly cost him serious injury, as you will see in the clip. Even with a helmet I would have been terrified. Cricket is not a game for faint hearts…

At the age of 45 Brian Close had been brought in to open the England batting earlier in the series in an attempt to stiffen their resistance to the West Indian attack. He wasn’t the greatest player in the world nor the cricketing world’s most agreeable character, and as you can tell he wasn’t in the first flush of youth in 1976 either, but there is no denying his courage and determination. Here he is enduring a vicious battering at the hands of Michael Holding. One short-pitched delivery in this sequence came within a whisker of hitting him on the head; had it done so the consequences would have been horrendous. As it was, he “only” had to take a succession of blows to his body. He scored 20 runs at Old Trafford, off 108 balls in 162 minutes, and was dropped for the next Test, as was his opening partner John Edrich, although both had stood their ground and defended their wickets (and themselves) manfully.

R.I.P. Brian Close (1931-2015)

5 Responses to “R.I.P. Brian Close”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Cricket’s hardest man. He once gave Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, the fearsome West Indian quicks of the early 1960s, the charge. It is also said that when fielding at short leg he was once hit on the head and, on coming to, his first words were “did anyone catch the rebound?”

    • Perhaps if it had hit him anywhere other than on the head it might have hurt!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        No brain, no pain? I was at some of that 1976 Old Trafford Test; I remember Mike Selvey’s amazing spell and Gordon Greenidge making a ton in each innings to get West Indies out of the hole. This was precisely a decade after the first Test I attended, also against West Indies at Old Trafford, aged 9.

      • I remember seeing a boundary off Geoffrey Boycott’s head during a test match in the pre-empt era. It didn’t seem to hurt him, probably for the same reason…

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Tough Up North. Unless you consider Yorkshire the Midlands?

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