Brian Close

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Brian Close of legendary toughness, Brian Close still holds the record for the youngest player to represent England, when after a superb all-round first season with yorkshire, he was picked to play against New Zealand in 1949 at the age of 18. He never fully realized the promise of that first season, in and out of the England side over the next 27 years.

He bowled medium-pace and offspin, with more consistency that his batting. He lost favor with the England selectors after trying to hit Benaud out of the attack in the 1961 Old Trafford Test, but returned to take England to the brink of victory 1963 Lord's Test against the West Indies. In this innings, his highest in Tests, he used unconventional tactics, coming up the wicked to the West Indies pace bowlers. He captained Yorkshire and England with success but lost the England position after using delaying tactics in a county game. Later internal politics saw him move from Yorkshire to Somerset  for the final years of his career.

He was famous for his fearless fielding at short leg, where he would rarely duck or move to avoid a hard hit ball. He was also known for his courage against fast bowling, memorably so 1976, when he was recalled at the age of 45 to face the fearsome West Indies pace trio of Holding, Roberts and Daniels. Subjected to a barrage of short-pitched bowling on the Saturday of the Old Trafford Test in less that favorable light, close never flinched, and, as always, refused to rub the bruises.

Seemingly impervious to pain himself, he used to say to anyone who flinched, or rubbed a bruise: "How can the ball hurt you? It's only on you for a second." On the one known occasion when he was hit by such force that he was knocked off his feet by a short-arm pull by Hampshire's Danny Livingstone at Portsmouth- Close, sprang up and dismissed the slips and wicketkeeper (who were running towards him in concern) with an angry wave.

Close's record did scant justice to his talent, which was huge. In later years he played in the Lancashire League then returned to Yorkshire, and much controversy as chair of the cricket committee. He was an England selector in the late 70's.

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