Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

That’s more time than most people put into any video game in a year. It’s more time than most people put into any video game ever. And it’s definitely more than most would consider sensible to play the virtual version of a sport that looks like watching paint dry.

Let me explain my obsession.

Playing the actual cricket is something of a suction

cricket games
One of the quality of life goals you don’t get with real quality cricket: space. Photo: Kotaku Australia / Big Ant Studios

There is a lot about actual cricket that is less than ideal.

A big part of the cricketing experience, both when I was a player, referee and recently again when I had the chance to play in a charity match, involves ignoring the opposition for as long as humanly possible. This is something you see a lot in competitive gaming: People really think that continuing as an absolute flogger is a necessary part of the experience.

This also happens with cricket. For some, returning people are the only legal outlet for their aggression, despite the fact that it is a charity fight and you provide money for the homeless. For others, comments about killing your father are part of the field to mark at second drop.

But there is also the part where many of the physical elements of cricket are simply not available if you just want to jump in and have fun. Bowling on a proper grass court – and actually having access to a full width – is not something that is just accessible up and down the country.

For many people, if you jump back to cricket for the first time in ages – especially in more rural areas – you will end up playing on trash troturf. It is a beautiful waste experience in every possible way. You do not get any meaningful movement from the pitch. You have none space on the track, which is boring if you are a spinner and you at least want to do something interesting with the angles of your delivery.

Played on this when you were 12: amazing. Gambling on it when you’re 25 or older: absolutely worst. Photo: Wagners

It’s crazy even for a judge. I lost control of the amount of matches where I had to stand a few extra feet behind the stumps – because the narrow width of the popping fold meant that the referee and the bowl could not be done where you normally would. Which may be fine unless there’s a pretty tight LBW and you wish you were a little closer so you could get a better look at whether the ball hit in line and where the point of impact was.

As an 18-year-old who covered endless assaults from 50-year-old men who swore for the seventh hell circle, as they were not actually hit on the ankle, square in the middle and leg two inches in front of the stumps, I would have really appreciated the extra space.

Cricket also shares the same problem with tennis because your geography and environment have a fundamental impact on your cricketing experience. Australia does not get the same kind of weather that encourages absurd swing or rip-snorting spin as the subcontinent or England perhaps. These things are clean, baked into environmental factors that are not easily, and certainly not often, replicated under.

Virtually you can recreate these conditions at any time you want.

It’s a perfect second screen game

Not the most classic game, but it will work. Image: Kotaku

Do you remember when the idea of ​​driving virtual trucks seemed absurd? Today there are official esports leagues for Agricultural simulator, and it’s people deep into it.

The same goes for virtual cricket.

Most of the action in cricket is compressed into a single moment. The bowl releases the ball. Your eyes look for the point of release. They fall down in anticipation of where the ball will land. And then you judge quickly. You perform the shot.

It can be smashed to the limit. You may miss it completely. Or maybe you just let it be. Either way, there is generally about 20 seconds before the next ball is bowled. A brief moment of downtime where your mind is free to wander to other things.

Like other streams. TV shows. Podcasts. The weather. Literally anything.

Until the next ball is shot.

Virtual cricket really makes cricket better

cricket 19
It’s a way of nodding a ball. Photo: Kotaku Australia / Cricket 19

Not surprisingly, people who like to play virtual cricket enjoy watching real cricket. After all, can you think of another sport that goes on for five days and still does not give a real result?

But it’s more than just a waste of time. Sometimes it’s good to drown out the crazy comment that anyone forced to witness the worst years of Australian commentary, a patriotic circle jerk at best, will understand.

Here’s a bit of harmony I’ve found: starting an IPL stream, World Cup group match or even a little Sheffield Shield cricket on another screen where the game is muted. Alternatively, you can just launch the ABC grandstand on the second screen, play the sound for it and turn off the virtual cricket game.

There is also the bonus of being able to correct massive mistakes. I’m talking about England’s motorway robbery in the ODI World Cup final, or the absolute shock of a partnership with the last time under the ashes. Or make sure Australia’s trip to South Africa was spent being good at cricket instead of finding ways to cheat. Or back then, Australia pissed 7 wickets away to 38 in the first 11 overs of an ash test.

Virtual, Australian-made cricket lets me fix all these car accidents. Instead of having a crack at a ball flying off the field and pretending to be a 5-year-old in my neighbor’s backyard, I could do what armchair fans so often would want our representatives to do. Do not be lured by rubbish. Leave good balls. Wait for the bad ones — and enjoy the real test, T2os, W2os, one-dayers, or whatever at state-level cricket.

The career path is a child’s fantasy

Nothing wrong with furiously disagreeing with virtual DRS.

This is more of a sports thing than a cricket thing. But I always had a dream as a kid about making a sports game where you could customize a character as a kid and bring them up through the various state and national leagues before testing your punch on the international stage.

Cricket was still very much a national sport in the 90s. We grew up late at night with Michael Bevan – and later Mike Hussey – who saved the Australians from a certain defeat. Or just completely outclass the world’s best.

But even Bevan’s career was shortened by a lot of what-ifs. Concerns about the short ball, lack of willingness to spend more time working on his part-time ball.

Virtual cricket lets you reset all this and play your own imagination, which is part of the same magic behind FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, NHL and all sports games. Do you want to build a player who weighs 150 kg and who enjoys sniffing each ball for six while bowling right-handed waste that deserves to be whipped into the next zip code?

You can do it.

Cricket reminds me of Counter-Strike

OKAY OKAY. This requires heavy qualification, so let me explain.

I like Counter attack. But I’ve never really been open about what exactly it is I like about the toxic first-person shooter so much.

The reason is adrenaline. Each version of Counter attack, from the first betas to CS: GO today, is built on a ebb and flow. The round starts slowly. You are frozen in your respective alleys. You can not move. This is the purchase period. So you focus on other things. Your phone. Laughs the enemy. Buying your weapons. Pouring a drink. Anything but the fight at hand.

And then the next 10 or 20 seconds unfold. Maybe something’s happening. Maybe the other team is rushing you with a barrage of grenades, rifles and sound. Maybe they rush the other side of the map. Maybe nothing happens at all.

Often nothing happens. So you wait. Your muscles begin to tense. Your concentration narrows to specific points on the screen. You focus only on the crosshairs and occasionally check the radar. Your ears prick up at the sound of a footprint or a grenade.

And then everything happens at once. An enemy appears on your screen. A firefight ensues. If you survive, your focus shifts to the next match. Where are your teammates? Where are they in relation to you? Do you have time to reload? Where’s the bomb? Where are you going to be? Can you get there on time? Should you push forward instead?

And when all is said and done, the round ends. Your body relaxes. Your concentration eases. Your focus shifts to other things. And then the process starts all over again.

It is not so different from the mental cycle of cricket. The bowl runs up to the wicket. They drop the ball. The dough keeps an eye on the place of release. Their eyes fall to the pitch. The bat approaches the ball and whatever happens happens.


I do not blame people for not enjoying cricket. It deserves a lot of the flag. The rules are vague. The play is slow. And the sport’s administration is appallingly incompetent with an extraordinarily short-term approach to developing countries and future talents.

But that is also why cricket provides such a good video game. The elements that ruin cricket in the real world can be ignored or deleted. As a video game, cricket fits more into a busy lifestyle than most games do. The sound is basically irrelevant. Your full attention is exclusively optional and it only takes as much time as you are willing to give.

This post has been updated because I went down a Cricket 19 hole after the announcement of the next generation Cricket 22 later this year. Help. Again.

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