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Brian Close, youngest cricketer to win Test cap for England, dies

Brian Close, the former England and Yorkshire captain, has died of lung cancer at the age of 84.

Close became the youngest player ever to win a Test cap for England when he made his debut against New Zealand in 1949 as an 18-year-old, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on it's website on Monday.

The famously brave batsman went on to lead his country seven times in 22 Tests, and also captained his native county to win four County Championship titles.

He leaves a widow, Vivienne, and a son and a daughter.

He was also an avid footballer in his youth, having played for Leeds United, Arsenal and Bradford City. He was god enough at football to be signed as an amateur by Leeds United and also became the first Leeds player to play international football at youth level, when in October 1948 he played for England against Scotland at Pittodrie Park in Aberdeen. 

Brian Close

A statement on Yorkshire's website on Monday confirmed Close's death the previous day.

"It is with the deepest regret that Yorkshire County Cricket Club announce the death of Brian Close, CBE, one of Yorkshire and England's greatest-ever captains and one of the game's most courageous players," it read.

Close was part of the famed Yorkshire team of the '60s which also featured England greats such as Geoffrey Boycott, Ray Illingworth and Fred Trueman.

After being sacked by Yorkshire, the 39-year-old Close received offers from many other counties, including Lancashire, Glamorgan, Middlesex and Leicestershire. But he turned all these down, preferring to accept a non-captain's role at Somerset.

During his time at Somerset Viv Richards and Ian Botham joined the county squad, and Close's leadership and discipline helped them become great cricketers. Botham said of Close, "There was a genuine enthusiasm for cricket which rubbed off on all those playing alongside him. You couldn't help but get excited by the game."

Born into a working class family in West Riding of Yorkshire, on February 24, 1931, Close's parents were Harry, a weaver, and Esther.

Close’s final first-class match came at the age of 55 in 1985, and he finished only six shy of 35,000 career runs. Also an off-spinner, Close's first class career spanned over three decades from his breakthrough debut season in 1949.

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