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A prince, a Pom, two Aussies

Oh to see old faithfuls in living colour

David Frith

Clockwise from above left: Ranjitsinji, Barnes, Cotter, Trumper © PA Photos, Getty Images
Many years ago, in idle moments in the press box (and there seemed more idle moments then than in the hectic Test matches of the modern era), I devised a challenge to get everyone thinking: nominate the two bowlers and two batsmen you would choose to watch if you were compelled to sit forever more looking out over a cricket ground.
Selections do not usually come fast. You have all of history to draw from, and just when you think you've got the pair of batsmen to bat against the chosen pair of bowlers, another name crops up. It was additionally amusing to analyse people's choices in that much is revealed about a person's character by the names he announces.
Curiosity plays a big part. Wouldn't most of us like to see Victor Trumper or WG Grace or Ranjitsinhji in full colour action and in 3D? Similarly with bowlers. "Demon" Spofforth and SF Barnes, to name but two.
My own selections have probably wavered over the years, but now that I need to commit myself seriously, deep and tantalising thought is applied to the challenge. I would happily watch Ranjitsinhji batting forever, with Victor Trumper as his partner. They were inventive and graceful, and it was said that they had several shots available for any ball. Makes you wonder how they ever got out.
Who are the lucky fellows to bowl at them forever more?
SF Barnes must be one, with his aggressive medium-pace spin and swerve, and his partner will be Tibby Cotter, the Australian tearaway. There is little or no film of any of these. I hope they won't disappoint. I doubt they will.

David Frith is an author, historian, and founding editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine