Fred Titmus made his first-class debut in 1949, the year that I was born. Naturally, I didn't take a lot of notice, but I came across him in 1957 or 1958 when he was in a series of cards in packets of 'sweet cigarettes', hard white sugary sticks with a red end designed to look just like the real thing, which I consumed in large numbers (with unfortunate effects on my teeth). Titmus was one of the less notable figures in the series, having played just two Tests in 1955. However, he was a very successful county cricketer in the late 1950s, and he returned to the England team in 1962. He was a major force in the 1962-63 Ashes series, taking 21 wickets at an average of 29.3 and averaging over 36 with the bat, and he was a fairly regular fixture in the England team until the 1967-8 tour of the West Indies when he caught his foot in the propeller of a boat and as a result lost four toes. Surprisingly, he was playing cricket again the following summer, and he still had many years of cricket in him. He played his final Test in 1975, but continued to play county cricket and played his final first-class match in 1982. Thus, he had the unusual distinction of playing first-class cricket in five different decades.
Titmus was a very useful batsman and a high quality offspin bowler. I don't believe I ever saw him in the flesh, but I must have seen him on TV many times as I can still visualize his bowling action, neat and economical. He was not one of the greats, but he was a fine cricketer, in the words of Jim Laker, 'a master craftsman'. That would be good enough for most people. (Bob Borsley)