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Back when we reviewed Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode, we said we’d also do a thing on playing a career as Afghanistan. This is that thing.
For a more comprehensive look at the mechanics of Cricket Captain 2018, see our review of the 2017 game (it’s fundamentally the same).
You absolutely can. You can play as Ireland too – but honestly, who doesn’t want to play as Afghanistan?
The first time we tried this, we played all formats – Tests, one-day internationals and T20 internationals. Then we realised that Afghanistan mostly only got to play one-off Tests and we were spending a hell of a lot of time playing limited overs stuff that we didn’t really give a flying full toss about. At this point we started a new Test-only career and played it through until 2029, which seemed like plenty long enough to work out what was what.
Not really. It’s a game, so you don’t have to wait six months before your next fixture – you just roll straight into it. One-off Tests are actually pretty interesting because you tend to really concentrate on that one match and there’s also the chance of executing a mugging on a higher-ranked team.
After a couple of years, Afghanistan start playing two-Test series and this is probably a better number. You can’t really fluke a two-Test series, but you also don’t get bored and fed up in the way you absolutely would if you were getting hammered match after match by the same opposition. A Cricket Captain Test match doesn’t take five actual days, but it still takes a fair while.
Actually no. For one thing, they seem to end up playing Ireland or Zimbabwe (or both) most years and there’s a good chance you’ll win those matches. We also beat England 2-0 (in England) and South Africa 1-0; and drew 1-1 with New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
So it’s not like it’s impossible to experience success (unless you’re playing pissing Bangladesh – for some reason those guys hammered us every single time).
The downside of the scheduling is that even by 2029, we still hadn’t played South Africa, Sri Lanka or the West Indies away or India or New Zealand at home. This is a level of realism that could perhaps be tweaked for the better.
Afghanistan being Afghanistan, five of our top six in every match we played were rated as ‘very aggressive’ batsmen (that’s a step up from merely ‘aggressive’). Darwish Rasooli was our most successful, averaging 54.35 after 44 Tests.
If you’re questioning the realism, you have to remember that average has been (only slightly) bolstered by the volume of matches against Zimbabwe and the likes. (Although it’s worth noting that the real life Darwish Rasooli currently averages 82.53 in first-class cricket. He’s only 18. Maybe he’s one to watch?)
Quite a few of our other batsmen averaged over 40. (Specific shout out to Imran Imran for having the best name and also for hitting an unbeaten 271 against Australia in Brisbane.)
The bowling was obviously built around Rashid Khan, but there’s plenty of strategic fun to be had trying to muster a varied attack around him. One way or another, we fielded six bowling options. Decent Afghanistan quick bowlers are few and far between, so it was usually best to get a left-arm medium-pacer in there while lengthening the batting order with a good spinner who could bat rather than a fractionally better spinner who aspired to be Chris Martin.
Despite the image below, we never once picked this guy Najeeb Tarakai. (All the pics on this page were taken from the Cricket Captain 2018 site.)
In his final match before retirement, Cricketer of the Realm Mohammad Nabi made an unbeaten hundred in a successful nine-wickets-down fourth innings run-chase against Australia.
This is probably the best thing that has ever happened in any computer game. Love Nabi.
Cricket Captain 2018 is fundamentally the same game as last year. Here’s a review of Cricket Captain 2017 for a broad overview and what follows here is a (not particularly) quick look at All-Time Greats mode, which is one of the new features.
What do you think it is? It’s a gameplay mode where you can pick historical players.
You know, all these sorts of guys…
To test All-Time Greats mode, we played a series. We played exactly one series and we didn’t save and replay any parts of it and we aren’t lying about any of what follows either. [You’ll see why this statement is necessary shortly.]
An All-Time Greats series can be in any format and up to five matches. We played three Test matches because we thought it would be unfair to make our guys play five matches, what with most of them being quite old and several of them being dead.
We played as England and we played against India because England are playing India at the minute and we weren’t feeling very imaginative.
Step one was to pick our 18-man squad.
Can you pick Ian Austin? You can pick Sep Kinneir. The Cricket Captain 2018 database isn’t going to let you down. Of course you can pick Ian Austin. You can also play him in the first Test ahead of WG Grace.
Our other major selectorial moves saw Rob Key edge out Graham Thorpe because we ran out of batting spots, while the trickiest decision was whether to go with Bob Willis or Syd Barnes. We went with Willis in the end because we felt our attack needed a bit of pace.
There are two options for selecting the opposition squad: you can either pick it yourself or you can not pick it yourself. We didn’t feel it was in the Spirit of Cricket to be picking the opposition’s squad for them, so we left them to do it themselves.
When we started the match, we were greatly surprised to see that India’s idea of an All-Time Great squad is the exact squad they have right now. They stuck KL Rahul behind the stumps and picked seven specialist batsmen, two spinners and two quicks.
Having won the toss and batted, Marcus Trescothick made a bombastic 144. Despite that strong start, there was every chance of a disappointing score until a counter-attacking lower order partnership between Matt Prior (93) and Willis (41). The England All-Time Greats ended up with 431.
Beefy made a duck.
The very first ball of India’s innings was wholly believable with Shikhar Dhawan caught at slip off Jimmy Anderson. The team continued to make great early inroads but then Graeme Swann was totally unthreatening and a large partnership built between Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin.
Obviously we gave Rob Key an over. Much less obviously, he dismissed Ashwin. It was at that point that we resolved never to bowl Key again as there was no way it was going to get any better than that in the field.
It got better with the bat though. As we pushed for a second innings declaration, Key notched a fine 200-ball half century. This then turned into a 300-ball unbeaten hundred.
Alas, there wasn’t enough time to bowl India out and England All-Time Greats had to settle for a draw. It was no-one’s fault.
We were keen to get WG Grace into the side to give us an extra bowling option and this sadly meant that we had to drop David Gower. Ian Austin had been unable to bring his one-day form to the Test arena, so we dropped him for Syd Barnes, even though that meant lengthening the tail.
After again winning the toss, we chose to bat. Rob Key notched another 200-ball half century and then pressed on to make a breath-taking 109 off 386 balls.
With rain around, Beefy, Jimmy and Syd Barnes secured an 87-run lead, but England All-Time Greats were again running out of time. We set India 271 to win in two sessions and they finished on 153-5. We can’t remember who took the wickets, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t Graeme Swann because he was still proving singularly ineffective.
Everyone blamed the weather for the match ending in a draw.
Swann’s muted performances had left us seeking an additional spin option. While WG Grace had batted competently, his medium-pace offered nothing to a team already boasting Syd Barnes. We therefore dropped him for Wilfred Rhodes, who brought a slow left-arm option to the attack.
With 58 first-class hundreds to his name, we felt confident Rhodes could do a job at number three and his 4,204 first-class wickets suggested he wouldn’t be overawed if the pitch started to turn either.
For their part, India stuck with seven specialist batsmen but this time went with four seamers and no spinner. Interesting decision.
England All-Time Greats again batted first and an under pressure Alastair Cook showed admirable resilience to grind out a hundred. Key, by now in blistering form, raced to 50 off just 120 balls and then 103 off 282 balls before being dismissed. Even with India’s long batting line-up, 477 felt like a good score – particularly in light of the home team’s broad range of bowling options.
India started well enough, but it was hard to avoid the feeling that this was going to be England’s match when even Graeme Swann managed to take a wicket (Kohli). We then brought Wilfred Rhodes on for the first time in the 44th over. He took a wicket with his first ball. And his fourth. And his sixth.
Rhodes finished with 4-16 in the innings. Swann managed something like 3-400 in the series.
India then followed-on and Willis took 5-49 to secure victory by an innings and 69 runs.
England All-Time Greats took the series 1-0 and with no further playing obligations, the players made their way back to their respective homes/old people’s homes/graves.
If we can play an All-Time Greats series and Rob Key finishes with most runs (344 at an average of 86.00) and the lowest bowling average (4.00) then that to us seems like an excellent thing.
Cricket Captain 2018 is available now on PC, iOS, Android and Mac. For more information, see the Childish Things website.
Charlie Campbell is the captain of the Author’s XI. I’ve seen these roosters a couple of times at the Wormsley ‘Words and Wickets’ festival. In 2014 there was a tent displaying the latest Jaguar cars and the food was provided by Jamie Oliver. I marvelled at the burgers which were about half the size of a cricket ball. We brought our lunch with us.
Campbell’s book is an entertaining foray into the joys and headaches of captaining an amateur side. I thought about an in-depth review then thought better of it. While leaning on Brearley’s book, there are many funny anecdotes involving the Authors. Campbell side-steps names until the end of the book but his XI have featured Sebastian Faulkes (you know the chap, he writes in French for the hell of it then transcribes it all back into English and apparently has time for cricket), Ed Smith, Tom Holland and other scribblers.
Maximilian Hilderbrand favourably reviewed Herding Cats in Literary Review but mentioned from his own experience a batsman who scored a ‘sumptuous half-century’ while high on magic mushrooms. I’d like to hear more from Max. The review in The Cricketer was a bit more guarded.
I enjoyed the book a lot. It’s a great insight into managing the Authors. However, I have to say that a part of me wondered whether the book would have been published at all if Campbell wasn’t a literary agent and connected to all the right people. Despite Campbell’s occasional protestations at how difficult it all is, the acknowledgements could be summed up by John Le Mesurier, “It’s all been rather lovely.”
Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at firstname.lastname@example.org
I read Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard in September 2009, while Daisy and I were on a short holiday in Burgundy. We had joined Daisy’s sister, Lavender and her husband, Antonio Ordóñez for a few days, then we stayed on for an extra day or two before returning home.
Lavender and Antonio looked at us quizzically before they headed off when the answer to their question, “what are you going to do after we leave today?” was, “we’re going to the Bresse service station for lunch”. This is not such a crazy thing to do; I should imagine it is the only service station in the world that serves the indescribably wonderful Poulet de Bresse; at affordable prices too.
We also wanted to see Bourg-en-Bresse; I found a wonderful music shop there and bought a good few CDs, including Bach Cello Suites and some cool Parisian jazz.
Then back to the Moulin d’Hauterive for a game of crazy tennis on the hotel’s unbelievably dilapidated tennis court; then some reading around the pool.
As you can see, the hotel was not very busy in September.
Strangely, several years later, Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard came up in conversation, reported on Ogblog – here, with Bill “Wild Bill” Taylor, at Trent Bridge.
**** 4 Stars = Highly Recommended.
(The Ged Ladd Cricket Book Review scale: From 1 Star = Don’t Bother to 5 Stars = Essential Reading).
Have you read a cricket book on holiday? Tell us what it was, where you were and give us a star rating. email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
At this point, players were all-but-unrecognisable. However, they did move like puppets playing proper cricket strokes, so that was still pretty funny.
We like this one because WHY WOULD THE BOWLER BE DOING THAT?
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.
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.
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.
Is that his mouth?
You may believe that the ball has been edged behind, but actually the keeper has large, square, jet black nads (possibly gloves).
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?