LONDON: Brian Close, England's youngest ever test cricketer and the man who had the courage to take blows from the fearsome West Indies fast bowlers on his body, has died at the age of 84 on Sunday.

The left-handed batting all-rounder made his debut at the age of 18 against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949 and went on to play 22 tests, out of which he captained England in seven.

The former Yorkshire skipper, who also played three one-day internationals, had a highest score of 70 to go alongside his 18 wickets in the longer format.

Also a daredevil fielder at short leg, such was Close's reputation for bravery that he received a call back to the national team at the age of 45, after a nine-year gap, to face the Caribbean pace battery at home in 1976.

His last innings, in the third test of the series against West Indies at Manchester, when he went out to open the batting with ageing John Edrich, has become part of cricket folk lore.

The tall left-hander made 20 off 108 balls, fending off bouncers with his body to deny the West Indies bowlers early success with a opening partnership of 54 with Edrich against the likes of Andy Roberts and Michael Holding.

Close is survived by his widow, and a son and daughter.