Former England spinner Titmus dies at 78

March 24th, 2011 - 12:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar. 24 (ANI): Former England off-spinner Fred Titmus, who played county cricket across an incredible five decades, has died after a long illness. He was 78.

Titmus, one of England’s finest spinners, played 53 Tests over 19 years, taking 153 wickets, and would have appeared many more times for his country had he not had to compete against the likes of Ray Illingworth, John Mortimer and David Allen.

Yet, it was as a Middlesex man that he was best known, making his debut in 1949 and his final appearance, aged 50, in 1982 when he journeyed to Lord’s as a spectator, popped into the dressing room to say hello and was promptly told he was playing by Mike Brearley.

Simon Hughes was swiftly relegated to 12th man while Titmus took three wickets in a Middlesex victory over Surrey.It was incredible that he was able to play at all after 1968 when, on tour as vice-captain with England in Barbados, he lost four toes while swimming when he caught his foot in the propeller of a boat.

Remarkably, Titmus recovered quickly enough to take 111 wickets for Middlesex the following season but it looked as though his England career was over until he made a surprise return in 1975.

Titmus, a more than useful batsman who also played briefly for Surrey, was a good enough footballer to once be on Watford’s books and went on, after retirement, to be a successful coach and England selector.

He was known for his Cockney sense of humour, once saying, while a selector, that a batsman was ‘too intelligent for his ability’.

He also said his favourite memory of touring Australia was ‘a ground emptying with an hour’s play left’.

Titmus was even immortalised in a song by the indie band Half Man Half Biscuit in 1985. (ANI)

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