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Cricket writers on their dream match-ups

Mixed Ashes

In which The Don and Ranji take on Barnes and Lillee

Steven Lynch

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Clockwise from above left: Barnes, Ranji, Bradman, Lillee © PA Photos, Getty Images

I don't suppose this is terribly original, but I would love to see Don Bradman bat. Film suggests he was just about the first batsman to play in the "modern" way - bat and pad close together, pushing the ball around for singles, looking for runs off every ball from the start. Bearing in mind that he struggled a little against the Bodyline attack, I'd want to see him face a top-class fast bowler, and after agonising about Malcolm Marshall, the best of the West Indians, for this celestial match-up I would go for the most complete fast bowler I've ever seen: Dennis Lillee, who bowled the most unplayable delivery I have witnessed - swinging in and seaming away at pace to clean up a nonplussed Brian Luckhurst in 1972. Like Keith Miller, Lillee wouldn't hesitate to give the Don a bouncer or two.

It was tempting to choose Shane Warne at the other end, but someone else I'd like to see would be Sydney Barnes, the enigmatic England bowler who took 189 wickets in just 27 Tests. The producer would have to line up Hawk-Eye and an Analyst or three so we could finally work out exactly what Barnes bowled.

The other batsman? I thought of Victor Trumper, or Jack Hobbs, or George Headley, or Walter Hammond (him batting with his nemesis Bradman would be interesting!), but someone else who changed the way people thought about batting was KS Ranjitsinhji. I don't suppose Lillee would give him too many to leg-glance, and Barnes would test Ranji's wrists, but it would be a fantastic contest.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket (reviewed here). This article was first published in the print edition of Cricinfo Magazine in 2006

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.
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