Stars from cricket world say farewell to captain Close

N'Former umpire Dickie Bird arrives for a memorial service for Brian Close at St Chad's Church, Far Headingley, Leeds
N'Former umpire Dickie Bird arrives for a memorial service for Brian Close at St Chad's Church, Far Headingley, Leeds
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Former South Yorkshire Test umpire Dickie Bird joined a host of stars from the world of cricket for the funeral of former England, Yorkshire and Somerset captain Brian Close.

Dickie, from Barnsley, Sir Ian Botham and Micky Stewart joined family and friends for the service at St Chad’s Church in Headingley, Leeds.

Close, who lived in Baildon, West Yorkshire, died aged 84 following a long battle with cancer.

Sir Ian described him as ‘simply the best captain a young player could have ever wanted’.

Close was the youngest player ever to represent England aged 18 and captained his country.

He leaves behind his wife Vivienne, a son and a daughter.

Sir Ian said: “He was the first man to congratulate you but he was also the first man to pull you down and take your legs away from you if you didn’t get it right.

“But then in the evening he’d be the first guy to come up put his arm around you and say, ‘Ian lad, come here, that’s what I thought was wrong... but here’s a drink, let’s learn from that and move on’.”

His wife Vivienne said before the funeral: “I see him as my husband, the father of my children, someone who could be awkward, someone who I loved very much and who I know loved me.”

She said one of his other talents was being a ‘wonderful dancer’.