Cricket computer game graphics through the ages

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4 minute read

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?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. I laughed out loud a few times, even though video games are not really my thing.


    My favourite: the fleeing bowler of course. Why would anyone programme that movement?

    1. Bowlers in Brian Lara would frequently sprint back to the stumps and then just sort of stand there, bobbing rhymically. Sometimes a return throw would fly right by them and they wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

      It was magnificent.

      1. Remember the odd glitch wherein the game would freeze but fielders would continue to bob and sway, for quite some time. Or a batsman would start taking guard about 2 lateral yards away from the stumps. Occasionally they would moonwalk back to their crease when the game’s internal workings caught up.

        Told in reverse this is the cricket gaming equivalent of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. Wonderful stuff.

      2. Can I just say I enjoyed the disintegration loops reference? A classic combination of cricket and another thing I like a lot, a bit like when Bert did his Ashes crossword. Why I like reading KC. Keep up the good work everyone.

  2. Brian Lara 95 on the mega drive was amazing too. Almost impossible to bat, but there was a six hit button for when you wanted to try and up the scoring rate. If you succeeded, the ball would stop in midair above the boundary as the game-makers hadn’t added any detail beyond the playing area. Power AND speed meters for the fast bowlers. Fielders would run straight at the ball when it was airbound even if no chance of a catch, then forlornly change direction and follow it after it passed them, all while any other nearby fielders stood motionless and facing the pitch.

    1. I can explain the fielding described in Mike’s last sentence.

      The designer/programmer must have watched one of our charity matches “back in the day”. Mike’s description of the fielders’ movements (and/or lack thereof) is spot on. Especially if the skipper was daft enough to place me out in the deep.

    1. My favourite thing to do with Ashes Cricket 2013 videos is link them to Americans in order to explain how the game is played.

  3. Brian Lara 96 had a glitch where batsmen were prone to LBW from left arm swing bowlers. I remember bowling legend Neil Fairbrother eclipsing Jim Laker’s figures with ease.

    1. Also, if it rained you just had to bring the spinner on, bowl as short as you could and as slow as you could, and almost without fail the batsman would be bowled as the ball came down for the second bounce.

  4. What your describing with the cricket graphics is called the ‘uncanny valley’ in aesthetics:

    “The concept of the uncanny valley suggests that humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers.”

    So your arguement actually has scientific backing. While I feel that cricket games peaked with Brian Lara’s Cricket 96 on the megadrive, the actual peak may be still to come!

    1. There should be some sort of ‘backed by science’ badge you could add to this sort of post.

      1. The pinnacle of “backed by science” writing on King Cricket was the utterly magnificent Jaffa Cake experiment, conducted by special correspondent, The Scientician.

        That article is the benchmark against which all other posts are judged.

        Frankly, this computer games graphics/uncanny valley one, while delightful in its own way, does not come close to the Jaffa Cake one in my view.

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