Long before helmets, without a thigh pad, an arm guard or a chest pad to protect him, 45-year-old Brian Close was selected by England to face Whispering Death, Michael Holding. Terrifying
In 1976, the 45-year-old Brian Close was called up for the first three Tests in England’s five-Test series against the West Indies. In the second innings of the third Test at Old Trafford, Close’s final Test innings, Close opened with the 39-year-old John Edrich. Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Wayne Daniel, a trio of fast bowlers, pounded them for two and a half hours. It was one of the most brutal displays of fast bowling ever seen. Wisden said, “Close and Edrich defended their wickets and themselves against fast bowling, which was frequently too wild and hostile to be acceptable”.
Close himself said, “It must have been the worst wicket I experienced in Test cricket. The faster the West Indians bowled the worse it got because the balls broke through the surface of the wicket. They exploded and flew at you.” With this innings of 20 runs off 108 balls in 162 minutes Close completed his Test career, under a vicious barrage, standing tall and taking the damage as he had against the West Indies at Lord’s 13 years earlier.
After that, both Close and Edrich were dropped for the fourth Test.