With a memoir by Vivien Close – Life with the Lionheart
imageThe definitive, authorised biography of one of England's cricketing giants
With a foreword by Ian Botham
'This is a must for anyone with Yorkshire cricket at heart, the authorised biography of one of the greatest players and characters ever to have adorned the county's history.' Yorkshire Post
The definitive, authorised biography of one of England's cricketing giants Brian Close (1931–2015) was the wonder boy of English cricket, his burgeoning promise exciting widespread admiration in a momentous summer in 1949. At the age of 18, he was hailed by the press as the "biggest discovery in post-war cricket".
Against the wishes of his County captain, Close was plunged into the England ranks on an exacting tour of Australia in 1950–51. He was ill-equipped to cope with a dramatic dip in form and insensitive management did not help the lonely young man in adversity. Recovery from these experiences took time but with maturity came greater assurance and on his appointment in 1963 as captain of Yorkshire, Close revealed himself as a master strategist and adventurous captain and inspired Yorkshire to four County Championships in 1963, 1966, 1967 & 1968 and Gillette Cup wins in 1965 & 1969.
Success at Yorkshire brought him the England captaincy in the fifth Test against West Indies in 1966 and for the home series against Pakistan and India in the following summer. Close's tenure as captain of England ended abruptly when he was sacked following accusations of 'time-wasting' in a County match against Warwickshire.
Brian Close's deeds in the Test arena are the stuff of legend and his defiance of the West Indies' fast bowlers at Lord's in 1963 and again at Old Trafford in 1976 has become part of cricket's folklore.
Close left Yorkshire in 1970 amid more controversy and joined Somerset in 1971. He captained his adopted county from 1972 until 1977 when he retired from the county game.
For this absorbing account of one of English cricket's most colourful and controversial personalities, Alan Hill has enlisted the help of many of Close's Yorkshire and England contemporaries to unearth a rich store of memories about his subject and Close himself has given some typically provocative and forthright opinions on the state of cricket today. All of which makes Brian Close - Cricket's Lionheart the definitive biography of a giant of the game.
Alan Hill has twice won the prestigious Cricket Society Literary Award for his biographies of fellow Yorkshiremen, Hedley Verity and Herbert Sutcliffe. His other books inclde acclaimed studies of Les Ames and Johnny Wardle and Peter May, Jim Laker and the Bedser Twins. He lives and works as a journalist and writer in Lindfield, West Sussex.
'Brian was an extraordinary man, a mix of King Lear storming in the wilderness and Churchill defying 'em on the beaches.' Peter Roebuck
'His story needs re-telling every twenty years or so because it is so astonishing.' The Independent
I thought the slating of Brian was one of the most unjust things I have ever experienced.' Richie Benaud
'A cricketing colossus in every way...' Birmingham Post
'Close was the best young player of my time.' Trevor Bailey
'Brian could be opinionated and outspoken. But whatever is said about his brashness ... he was probably the bravest player ever to step on to the cricket field.' Tom Graveney
'Controversy has surrounded him ... Cricketers from the Mendips to the Pennines may not agree with all that he has done. But they cannot fail to admire him, as do we all.' Gordon Ross, Playfair Cricket Monthly