Less than six months before one of world sport's oldest and most celebrated rivalries resumes, rare cricket footage has been restored that provides a glimpse into the game as it was played in the first days of the post-colonial era.

The 19-second clip of legendary England batting pair and close friends Charles 'C.B.' Fry and Kumar 'Prince' Ranjitsinhji, the India-born Maharajah of Nawanagar, engaging in an informal centre-wicket session at their English county team Sussex's ground (believed to be Hove) was filmed in 1901.

That makes it among the oldest cricket film to be preserved and restored, and is even more rare because it was originally shot for use on one of the first 'home video' entertainment devices, the Kinora reel that was operated under the same principle as a cartoon 'flip' book.

Fry and Ranjitsinhji were among the biggest names in cricket at the turn of the 20th century, the latter having scored an unbeaten 154 in his debut Test against Australia at Old Trafford five years earlier and the former becoming the first cricketer to plunder six consecutive first-class centuries in the year the footage was captured.

Only Sir Donald Bradman (1938-39) and South Africa allrounder Mike Proctor (1970-71) have since matched Fry's feat, with former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara falling 16 runs short in his bid to join the select group this week.

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Fry, a sporting polymath who also represented England at football, played in an FA Cup Final for Southampton and for a year jointly held the world long-jump record, was regarded as something of a purist in his stroke play that netted him more than 30,000 first-class at an average above 50.

By contrast, Ranjitsinhji was an innovator with the bat – and is widely regarded as introducing the leg glance to the game as well as being an early exponent of the late cut – who averaged 56.37 across 307 first-class matches and was captain of Sussex from 1899-1903.

But neither player shows the strengths for which they were renowned in the brief clip that NFSA Film Curatorial Officer Jeff Wray claims was designed as an early promotional vehicle to capitalise on the popularity of the cricketers to drive sales of the Kinora units.