Cricketing Computer Games: Test Match Special - Day Three, International Cricket Captain - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Cricketing Computer Games: Test Match Special - Day Three, International Cricket Captain

Christopher Morley has one last innings...

With the Boxing Day Test match drawing to a conclusion, time now for us to think about heading into the clubroom for a well-earned drinks break! But just before we do so, we can take a gander at probably the only cricket management simulation around, International Cricket Captain.

The first edition of International Cricket Captain hit shelves in 1998 as an expansion of a university project by Chris Child, inspired by what the Championship Manager series had done for football & Brian Walker from Empire Interactive proving to be impressed - footy proving itself to be something of a contentious issue for the heads of the England & Wales Cricket Board at the minute due to the sheer volume of injuries sustained by English players during kickabouts in training!

Opener Rory Burns is but the latest to feel its impact, as an ankle injury has ruled him out of the remaining matches in South Africa. Team director Ashley Giles has now taken the precaution of banning it from warm-ups entirely. At least the virtual equivalent isn't anywhere near as dangerous.......

The aim of International Cricket Captain is simple - take charge of a County Championship side & work your way into the England job. Yet there has been ongoing debate as to just how successful it is at delivering the experience for players! In an online Q & A session for his own Childish Things development company the creator seemed eager to improve on areas identified by those playing his brainchild, and took on board criticisms in line with changes to the sport itself.

DRS, the Decision Review System allowing cricketers to ask umpires to look again at their original decisions, was first used during a 2008 Test match between India & Sri Lanka & has gone on to become an integral part of the game as a whole. Something that Child addressed in 2017 in response to a question on including it within International Cricket Captain itself soon after its inception.
“We’re hoping to get the changes to the graphic engine from Tick Tock we need for DRS next year. It would be nice to get this in.”
Just a year after the release of the first in the series the Australians got their own equivalent featuring teams from Cricket Australia's State League. Since taking matters into his own hands it would seem Chris has addressed a couple of tactical tweaks to counter suggestions that that too was going stale!
“New tactical elements have been added, including an additional batting aggression setting, target run-rate indicator, re-balanced one-day match engine, and left-handed wrist-spin bowler type.”

Childish Things has been leading the way in the development of the game since its 2009 edition, following a split with Empire. At that time the man coming to the end of his time in the England job was Peter Moores whose tenure is not universally well remembered, ending as it did in a very public spat with captain Kevin Pietersen which caused his exit from the job in January of that year.

David Lloyd was in the post back in 1998, the popular former left handed batsman & slow left arm orthodox bowler having made his Test debut as a player back in 1974 against India. A series of controversies led to his retirement after the next year's World Cup, during which England became the first & so far only host nation to exit at the group stages.

He hadn't exactly helped his cause during a tour of Zimbabwe when following a draw he told the local media...
"We murdered them. We got on top and steamrollered them. We have flipping hammered them.

One more ball and we'd have walked it. We murdered them and they know it. To work so hard and get so close, there is no praise too high. We have had some stick off your lads. We flipping hammered them."
Following the World Cup failure he moved into punditry on Sky Sports, where he can still be seen to this day after a comparatively dignified exit from his old job.
"I've had a tremendous time with the England side and I'm looking forward to completing my tenure with a successful and enjoyable World Cup campaign.

It was important for me to have a clear picture of what my future holds. Now that the matter is settled this means the team can focus exclusively on the World Cup."
Geoff Marsh, his Aussie counterpart, enjoyed a much more successful tenure, winning that same World Cup after masterminding victory over Pakistan, and then retaining the Ashes over three consecutive years from 1997-99, before bowing out to become a selector for Cricket Australia. Which meant he actually had a hand in picking the players his successor could call upon for Baggy Green duty!

An often thankless task, as noted by Russell Jackson of the Guardian in 2016.
“You don’t have to spend long in bars or cabs around the country to know that nearly every Australian fan thinks he or she would do a better job of selecting the Test team than those presently tasked with doing it.

It’s a role that looks easy from the outside but has time and time again made mugs of cricket sages.”
And the idea of the selector as object of scorn, at least in an Australian context, stretches right back to 1912! Team captain Clem Hill told selector Peter McAlister during one particularly fraught meeting that...
“You have been asking for a punch on the jaw all night, and I’ll give you one.”
...before doing just that & nearly wrestling him out of an office window in the process!

What of the English perspective? Speaking to The Cricketer, Steve Harmison weighed in.
"You’ve got a round of County Championship matches going on so the actual selectors are watching the Test matches and they’re not watching county cricket. That tells me they’re not really interested in what’s going on in county cricket. “
Happily the virtual equivalent shouldn't cause half as much stress!

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