Funeral held for former England and Yorkshire captain Brian Close

Published: Wednesday 30th September 2015 by The News Editor

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Sporting celebrities joined Yorkshire cricketers past and present on Wednesday for the funeral of former England captain Brian Close CBE at St Chad’s Church in Leeds.

Sir Ian Botham, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board Colin Graves and life-long friend and former Yorkshire batsman Bryan Stott led the tributes at a Thanksgiving Service in Headingley for Close, who died earlier this month at the age of 84.

Close, widely regarded as one of his country’s greatest captains and renowned for his brave batting, remains England’s youngest-ever Test player having made his debut in 1949 against New Zealand at Old Trafford aged 18.

“He was just an inspiration,” said Botham, whose talents as a youngster alongside Sir Viv Richards were nurtured by Close during his time as Somerset captain.

“None of us really expected this to happen because we thought he would probably go on until he was about 150, he was indestructible.

“He certainly played a massive part in my life, not just on the field of sport but also through me and my wife Kath, and her mum and dad’s friendship with Brian and his wife Viv. I’ve got a lot to thank him for.”

Former Yorkshire and England captain and long-standing team-mate Ray Illingworth was visibly choked as he paid his respects.

Illingworth told Press Association Sport: “A lot of people say Brian was a hard man and things like that, but really he was a softy at heart you know.

“He could be hard on the cricket field, but he could do a good turn for anybody and as far as I’m concerned, well he was my best man.

“He was also godfather to my eldest daughter. That’s the sort of bloke he was for me. It’s a sad day.

“We go back a long way. There won’t be another like him. It’s been shown by a wonderful turnout and the tributes. I think it’s tremendous.”

Former Test umpire Dickie Bird OBE told Press Association Sport: “It was a wonderful service with some wonderful tributes.

“It was nice to see Sir Ian Botham come all the way from Scotland to be here. It just shows the respect he had for Brian Close.

“Brian was a tremendous captain and a wonderful man. I shall miss him and feel for his wife Viv and all her family.

“He was a hard man, believe me, but a good man.”

Close’s international career spanned 27 years, but took in only 22 Tests, and he was unbeaten on the seven occasions he captained his country.

He led Yorkshire to four County Championship titles in the 1960s before moving on to Somerset, and hit almost 35,000 first-class runs.

Published: Wednesday 30th September 2015 by The News Editor

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