I’ve good news for those who’ve been following Dave Black’s series on International Cricket Captain – you know, the one that tracks the lows and even lowers of Durham’s fictional 1999 season.
Last week Childish Things and Kiss released a new, improved, all bells-and-whistles version of the game. It’s the excuse you’ve been looking for to board yourself up in your study for months and forget that the outside world exists.
Oh, and you know that wife or girlfriend you’ve currently got? Well she won’t be hanging around for long after you’ve bought this game. It’s so addictive you won’t have time for anything else. In fact, you probably won’t even notice that she’s packed her bags and left.
Cricket Captain 2017 is the latest iteration in what has become a very successful series. You don’t actually play the game (i.e. bowl or hit the ball yourself using a controller) it’s essentially a strategy and management simulator in which you become Trevor Bayliss, Paul Farbrace, Joe Root, James Whitaker, and Andrew Strauss rolled into one.
Basically, it’s your job to negotiate contracts, pick squads, select a final XI, choose tactics, shuffle the batting order, set fields and make bowling changes as games develop. It’s basically Ray Illingworth’s dream job.
If you’ve played the old Championship Manager and Football Manager games, this is basically the cricket equivalent. You can control pretty much any professional team in the world – there are 130 domestic teams from eight countries plus the ten major international teams to choose from.
Bored with winning the Ashes, or taking Yorkshire to county championship after county championship? No problem. You can seek opportunities overseas instead. The Bank of Pakistan and Tribal Areas are sleeping giants just waiting for a tactical genius like you to transform their fortunes.
If you already own a previous Cricket Captain game, there’s plenty new to get your teeth into. They’ve developed an updated interface, refined match engine, improved player generation, and there are four new grounds to experience: Taunton, Bristol, Cardiff, and Hobart. What’s more, the previous grounds have all had a facelift. I think you’ll agree that Trent Bridge (pictured at the top) looks as pretty as a picture.
Another thing to look out for is the chance to play iconic scenarios from cricket’s history. Fancy taking control of England in South Africa in 2003, or England against the Windies in 1984? Go for it. Although I don’t fancy your chances in the latter.
There are also more stats than ever before. It’s like having Cricinfo at your fingertips. I particularly enjoyed reminding my Surrey supporting mates that Tim Curtis and Tom Moody once put on 309 against them in a B&H semi-final back in 1994 – a record for the third wicket at The Oval. There was obviously plenty of 50 over heartache for Surrey back then too! Plus ca change.
The other good thing about this game is its realism. Although the somewhat peculiar art of batting and bowling remains incredibly difficult to replicate in a game, the developers haven’t done a bad job at all. Player characteristics are also more realistic. That’s right folks, if James Vince’s batting drives you mad in real life it’s very likely to drive you loopy in Cricket Captain 2017 too.
What’s more, the attention to detail is fantastic. Sorry Durham fans, they’ve even included your points deduction in the 2017 County Championship table! Find some money, however, and you might just be able to tempt Stoneman and Borthwick back to Riverside.
Cricket Captain 2017 is available on PC via Steam for £19.99. Click here for more information or to buy.