EVEN people who regard themselves as passive cricket lovers will probably know the most salient details of Brian Close's career.

The former Baildon resident, more than decent at whatever sport he turned his hand to - notably cricket, football and golf but also swimming, boxing, tennis and shooting - was England's youngest test cricketer when he faced New Zealand at the age of 18 in 1949.

Close, who was born in Rawdon, died in September 2015 aged 84.

He had a 29-year first-class career (1948-77) with Yorkshire, then Somerset, aiding the development of Ian Botham and Viv Richards no less, and even captained Yorkshire's Academy team when he was in his sixties.

DB Close (his real first name was Dennis) played in 22 tests and had an outstanding record as England captain, winning six and drawing one of his seven tests in charge, and skippered Yorkshire to four County Championship titles.

As a batsman, he was fearless, being recalled by England to face the deadly West Indian pace attack at the age of 45.

Watching him face Holding, Roberts and Marshall etc in the drought summer of 1976, when Close preferred to let the ball hit him rather than risk getting a glove or a bat on it, was frightening.

And Close was possibly even braver as a fielder, usually at short leg, in the days before all the protection that they wear now.

He never seemed too far away from controversy either - be it on the field, where he was accused of time-wasting as England captain, or off it when, as chairman of Yorkshire's cricket sub-committee, he had to negotiate the difficult period when Geoffrey Boycott was White Rose captain.

However, one significant part of Close's life has only just come to light - his prolific letter writing to his best friend John Anderson from 1949-1956, before the pen gave way to the telephone.

Anderson, who died only months after Close, basically hero worshipped his best mate and kept all of his missives, some of which were written while Close was padded up waiting to bat and many of which were written after midnight, as Close had about 20 other people who he was writing to.

The letters to Anderson, which go into great depth and can be searingly honest, only surfaced after Close's death and were brought to the attention of former Telegraph & Argus journalist David Warner by Close's widow Vivien, who live near to one another in Baildon.

Warner, who covered Yorkshire for some 45 years, quickly realised the potential of this treasure trove and their capacity to make a book.

With notable help since from Vivien, Warner's new book, Just A Few Lines...: the unseen letters and memorabilia of Brian Close, details Close's day-to-day life, when he was not only making his way in cricket but also football for Leeds United and Arsenal, before a knee injury curtailed those dreams when he was in his early twenties.

While others may have been suffering through rationing, which lasted from 1940-1954, the word does not feature prominently in Close's life, as he enjoyed his time in boarding houses, hotels and private residences, eating better than the vast majority of the English public, while also finding time to acquaint himself with the opposite sex.

Stage shows, films and slap-up meals were a regular part of his life, and Close, who did not always put his foot in it, had the knack of getting on the right side of his superiors while doing his national service.

The book also details two tours - Close's first to Australia and New Zealand in 1950-51 and the lesser known controversial MCC A tour to Pakistan in 1955-56.

The shipping of Just A Few Lines to the United Kingdom may have been delayed in India for a few months by coronavirus, but you shouldn't delay in buying this book, as this eminently readable tome shines a light on a hitherto unseen aspect of the life of one of England's greatest sportsmen.

* Just A Few Lines, written by David Warner and edited by Ron Deaton, a member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club's archive committee, is priced at £20 and is available from Bradford-based Great Northern Books at www.greatnorthernbooks.co.uk