Category: Extras (page 1 of 40)

Four-day Tests – slightly less of the duration and epic scope that define the game’s longest format

Hurray! Four-day Tests! They’ll be much like five-day Tests, only with the unique selling point somewhat compromised. Who can fail to support an idea as clear and appealing as that one?

The thinking seems to be, ‘well, maybe if each match isn’t quite such a big commitment, some countries might play a few more’. Here’s a full account of why four-day Test cricket makes no sense.

It’s also been announced that there’s going to be a Test championship – the ICC delaying the move for many years until precisely the point at which everyone’s already tired of it.

Confusingly, every Test in the championship will be a five-day affair. They haven’t worked out the points system yet because you don’t want to rush these things.

“I would like to congratulate our members on reaching this agreement,” said ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, whose congratulatory bar seems set sufficiently low that he’d doubtless give you a hearty handshake for successfully scaling a flight of stairs.

We still believe that administrators would be far better off making some effort to bind the formats together rather than forever pitting them against one another.

We know the format-spanning points system is widely-ridiculed because no-one cares about it, but there is a nugget of something in there in our opinion.

As we’ve written before, whatever the current state of the longest format, cricket, in a broader sense, is in relatively rude health. The problem really is that the formats are cannibalising each other when they should be working together.

A Test world championship is symptomatic of that thinking. It reflects an insular view of the game where T20s, ODIs and Tests are all different. In reality, they’re all cricket – so why not treat them as one?

A format-spanning cricket world championship would provide context for everything and an incentive to play and perform well in the longest format as a by-product of that.

Alternatively, you could just implicitly diminish the status of a bunch of Test matches and hope that this somehow provides the format’s salvation.


Cricket computer game graphics through the ages

Last week we suggested that maybe the golden age of cricket videogame graphics had passed; that maybe player likenesses would from now on always be too convincing and insufficiently amusing.

Let’s take a look back on how things have changed, starting with the most recent funny graphics and working our way backwards from there.

Saeed Ajmal in Don Bradman Cricket 14 on the PC

What we especially like about this is that it very much looks like a real person, but very much not like Saeed Ajmal.

Saeed Ajmal is a joyous little ball of sunshine, whereas this bowler has clearly just heard that his pet fish has leukemia.

Gavin Smythe is hit in the balls by a Chaminda Vees delivery in Ashes Cricket 2009

What we like about this is that Gavin Smythe has been hit in the balls. We also like that all the players’ names are slightly wrong.

Slightly wrong faces plus slightly wrong names equals great amusement. Ashes Cricket 2009 was also a perfectly adequate game.

Cricket Revolution, which was out at roughly the same time, also scored well when it came to made-up player names.

Sri Lanka batsman in EA Cricket 2007 on the PC

We would still consider this game to fall within the golden age of cricket videogame graphics. When you get a player close-up, you do actually have somewhere up to half a chance of recognising the player.

This, to us, seems the optimal level of clarity.

Sri Lanka batsman in EA Cricket 2000 on the PC

At this point, players were all-but-unrecognisable. However, they did move like puppets playing proper cricket strokes, so that was still pretty funny.

Sri Lanka batsman and inexplicably fleeing Australia bowler in Brian Lara 99 on the PlayStation

We like this one because WHY WOULD THE BOWLER BE DOING THAT?

Sri Lanka batsman in Brian Lara Cricket 96

Could be anyone. Anyone right-handed, at any rate. Anyone right-handed who had played for Sri Lanka before the game came out in 1996.

Robin Smith in Graham Gooch World Class Cricket on the Amiga

Clearly Robin Smith. Or at least it was in the full version of this screenshot which featured his name in writing.

Big head, Robin Smith.

Honestly No Idea in Ian Botham Cricket on the PC

We think this one fits in here, chronologically, but we’d argue that these are the shittest graphics of all – worse than those that follow.

But that’s funny too, so a perfectly acceptable route to take by the developers.

Geoff Marsh in Allan Border Cricket on the Commodore 64

Is that his mouth?

Bill Athey in Graham Gooch Test Cricket on the BBC Micro

You may believe that the ball has been edged behind, but actually the keeper has large, square, jet black nads (possibly gloves).

The end

Because it’s 10pm and we can’t be arsed trawling through any more YouTube videos for what is, after all, an almost entirely pointless nostalgia trip of benefit to no-one but ourself. And not really of benefit to ourself now that we come to think about it.

Still, it’s more interesting than reading about Ben Stokes losing sponsorship deals, right?


Ashes Cricket to be released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One

What do you love most about cricket videogames?

If you answered “the deep customisation options” then good news – the developers of the upcoming Ashes Cricket have been listening to you.

“Time and time again players tell us the feature they love most about our cricket games is the deep customisation options,” said Big Ant CEO, Ross Symons.

The good news is that Ashes Cricket is basically an updated version of the actually-very-good Don Bradman Cricket, which we reviewed in 2014 (and here’s a bit more information about changes made for Don Bradman Cricket 17).

The bad news is that they’ve employed “photogrammetry technology” to capture the players’ likenesses.

We have no idea what this technique entails, but the screenshots seem to imply that this is the moment when videogame cricketers cease to be visually amusing.

Look at Jonny Bairstow, for example.

Very disappointing.

When we look at that, we think, “there’s Jonny Bairstow,” rather than, “ha ha ha, look at Jonny Bairstow” – which would have been our reaction to seeing him in any game before this one.

And look at Nathan Lyon. This Nathan Lyon arguably looks more like Nathan Lyon than Nathan Lyon does.

The other bad news is that the game’s fully licensed, which means that Michael Stirk won’t be opening the bowling for Australia and Jimmy Understone won’t be fulfilling the same role for England. Presumably that’s where the deep customisation options come in.

Ashes Cricket is out in November. You can already order the PS4 and Xbox One versions from Amazon, while the PC version will appear on Steam nearer the time.


I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the upcoming Ashes tour edition

Photo by Sarah Ansell

A semi-regular feature in which we ask a fella going by the name of Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

It strikes us that a looming Ashes tour is one of the few times when the sport might force itself into the wider public’s awareness, so we’re interested to hear the current view from ‘outside cricket’. Before that though, there’s some related cricket news that we’ll have to touch upon…

I was in a town in Yorkshire once – Cleckeaton, Pudsey, Batley, Shipley, I don’t know – and I was driving along with a mate and we saw a dog being pushed along in a pram, all tucked up nicely. And he nodded and went ‘Dog in a pram’ and we carried on. And it was quite a thing to see, but it was still just a dog in a pram. So I’m sure there are many column inches being written about what you alluded to but there’s no more to say than ‘dog in a pram’ about it really is there?

Yeah, we don’t want to go down the route of dissecting the incident. We were just wondering what perception you’d had of Ben Stokes before this week (if any)?

None at all. Honestly couldn’t have picked him out of a police line up including him, Prince and Alan Partridge. Although I would know he wasn’t Prince or Partridge, obviously.

So basically, you knew nothing of England’s most high profile Test cricketer before this week and now you think… well, we should probably let you put it in your own words.

I’ve seen a video of him fighting for a minute. I’ve never seen him play, heard him speak, read an interview. I don’t even know what he’s said after this incident. From what I know he could be anything from a decent fella who acted daft on a night out to a raging psychopath.

By the way, watch that video. Are they all wearing white trainers cos they’re cricketers and they think that they have to wear white trainers all the time? Or is that the fashion? For lads who go to shit clubs and don’t know that they should be wearing proper footwear by their mid twenties?

We bought some Hi-Tec Silver Shadow the other day – but they’re silver (they’re grey).

Mate, you’re too old to be wearing trainers for anything other than sport. Come on. You know that. You’ll look like a leisure dad.

Should Stokes play for England again?

Oh yeah. But a big fine and a good telling off. A proper telling off, like when Mr Carter made us cry for having a water fight with the fire extinguishers in the huts.

Next question: did you know it was the Ashes this winter?

Yes, I did. But maybe because of the Stokes stuff. The will-he-won’t-he be selected fuss I’ve heard on the radio. I’m not certain I would have known otherwise.

Any knowledge of the squad? Any opinion at all about how England might do?

I presume that guy who was shouting ‘Stokes! Leave it!’ might be in there. Can’t remember his name. Someone called Ali? I just googled two I thought might be playing. One is 40 and retired. The other is 45 and Australian. I have the idea that it is not thought we will do very well in these Ashes but I do not know why.

“Stokes! Leave it!” isn’t in there, we’re afraid – although many people thought he might have been. Moeen Ali will be going. You can have half a point for that.

Who were the two you googled? You can tell us. We won’t publish your ignorance on the internet or anything.

Jesus this is embarrassing. Strauss and Hayden. I mean, Hayden even sounds so obviously Australian but I didn’t know…

Odd that. A couple of years ago we asked another friend to name current England players. He said “there are loads” and then struggled to come up with a single name. He eventually went with Botham and Gilchrist.

Strauss is actually going, incidentally. Not as a player. He’s director of cricket or some such title.

Just looked at the team and I recognise a good six or seven of the names.

To be fair, there’s cricket fans who might be struggling with a couple of them.


A cricket bat in a Danish nouveau-punk duo’s video

Ged writes:

PowerSolo are a wild and crazy Danish nouveau-punk duo. They mostly tour around Europe, not the UK. My old friend Pinball Geoff put me onto them recently – they are even more mad than his band, the Bikini Beach Band. Short story.

During the first twenty seconds of the video for Powersolo’s song, Frantic, one of the Danish duo is gratuitously roused from his slumbers with the use of a cricket bat. To add to the confusion, Clint Eastwood sort-of introduces the video. It’s all a bit cog-dis, especially the cricket bat bit.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


A spider being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

Ged writes:

This plucky fellow was observed in the Lower Compton Stand at Lord’s, very close to the historic concrete step where King Cricket demonstrated his “Real World Skills” in 2016.

Perhaps this spider’s magnificent web is an arachnidian equivalent of a blue plaque, commemorating King Cricket’s astonishing feat…or merely the fact that King Cricket once sat there. A rotund specimen, this – a veritable arachnoid Dwayne Leverock. Take a closer look; magnificent.

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicuously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.


Tigger being conspicuously indifferent to Toby Roland-Jones

Mike writes:

Try as I might, I was unable to get Tigger to show the slightest interest in To-Ro-Jo’s debut destruction of the Saffer top order – in fact she positioned herself as far away as possible from the action, atop a throne of recently used but as-yet-unputaway guest bedding.

She may have realised it’s only the highlights, or perhaps it’s because, as a Scottish cat, she considers cricket a sport for southern faeries. Perhaps she’ll spring to life should we catch a glimpse of Vermin Philander or Catgiso Rabada…

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.


Half a dozen cricket balls in an unusual place

This is how you do home décor people.

Marking the other strand of our other writing life, our bike is also in the kitchen. In contrast to the cricket balls, its decorative worth is still the matter of some debate.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


Books to read at the cricket? Iphigenia Among The Taurians by Euripides

Ged writes:

Plays are generally quite good for reading during a day of county cricket. It doesn’t take all that long to read a play. In my case, this means I get to see cricket, read a play, do some general reading (e.g. from The Economist and/or The Week) and have time to do some socialising too.

In the spring of 2006, I was contemplating trying to write a second play before really having a go at amending my first one. Seeking ideas for underlying plot structure and devices, my mind turned to Greek drama, which I hadn’t really looked at since school. I bought a clutch of cheap paperback collections, one of which was Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford World’s Classics), a collection of Euripides’s dramas including Iphigenia among the Taurians – click here for Wikipedia entry (which contains spoilers).

On 8 June 2006 I ventured to Southgate, to see Day Two of Middlesex v Yorkshire – click here for Cricinfo card (which contains spoilers) with Iphegenia in my hand (so to speak). I read the book’s introduction during the morning session. This was harder reading than the play itself, but I knew I needed to get my head back into Greek drama generally and Euripides in particular to stand any chance with reading the play.

After lunch, I found a quiet spot on the far side of the ground. After a short while, Michael Vaughan (who was then England captain, rehabilitating after injury) came to field right in front of me.

“What are you reading?” asked Vaughan.

“Greek drama,” I replied, showing him the cover of my book. “Euripides.”

“Greek drama! Is reading that more interesting to you than watching County Championship cricket?” asked Vaughan.

“I have learnt to do both at the same time,” I replied. “Hardly ever miss a ball if it’s pace bowling. Harder with the spinners.”

Michael Vaughan made one of his “I’m not convinced” grunts and then wished me well.

In truth, Iphegenia was hard work while watching cricket. It is basically an escape play, but the plot hinges on siblings Orestes and Iphegenia failing to recognise one another until a vital “big reveal” watershed moment. Lots of room for dramatic irony in that device but you need to suspend a heck of a lot of belief throughout the play.

In summary, Iphigenia among the Taurians is:

  • Good for getting your head back into Greek drama
  • Not really useful material for a modern play
  • Good for attracting the attention of the England cricket captain (in my experience)
  • Otherwise not really suitable as cricket match reading

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at king@kingcricket.co.uk


Cricket beer carrying goes up a notch – The Device gets supersized

Remember The Device?

The Device was created about 20 years ago by Special Correspondent Dad so that he could sidestep the flimsy and unreliable cardboard beer carriers that were handed out at Old Trafford at that time.

Pint-carrying technology has only advanced in two-steps-forward-one-step-back fashion since then so The Device remains the envy of all Test match patrons who behold it.

This week Mike got in touch with us having sighted this beast at Edgbaston.

“Look at this!” he said, understandably and justifiably deploying an exclamation mark. “It’s like The Device squared. If 16/6 was a square. What an effort. Even though it’s only 3/4 full the proponent still complained of the weight.”

We asked Mike for the full story.

Mike said: “This is a random dude I encountered on Saturday and whom I now worship as a God.”

We also showed this to Special Correspondent Dad, who saw fit to question how many of the glasses contained beer.

Update: Special Correspondent Dad later added: “The support of your subjects for The Device is very much appreciated. Obviously people with taste. Besides the prototype, which we use at Test matches, there are a further two collecting dust and cobwebs hanging up in the garage.”

He also had another observation to make about the one pictured above. He said: “At the risk of being churlish about a magnificent structure, the holes are rather too small. The beer pots stand too high on this device making the load a little unstable.”


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