Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Calypso Calapsyco!

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Calypso music originated in Trinidad and that’s where England’s cricketers collapsed in epic fashion to squander a first innings lead and succumb to defeat against West Indies in the latest round of Global Test League fixtures.

Disclaimer: Let’s step aside from pretending this is all real for a moment. Ashes Cricket’s developers Big Ant Studios released a mid-match patch whilst I was sailing to victory against the home side. Ultimately Big Ant have made the game harder/better. Batting in Tests is now actually like batting in Tests in real life. Well maybe not quite but you get what I mean! I’m looking forward to playing more and adapting my game, having to graft with the bat but in regards to this match, when you’ve become used to smacking the ball to all parts, it’s a difficult habit to break.

In the first innings of the match, England reached 60-0 having chose to bat but lost both openers (Jennings 38/Stoneman 22) in quick succession before being bundled out for 222. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes top scored with 55 and England were indebted to a career best 34 from Durham pacer Mark Wood on Global Test League debut.

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West Indies lost opener Kraigg Brathwaite before a run was scored and the wickets were shared around as England gained a 50-run first innings lead. The Caribbean side were aggrieved at a couple of umpiring decisions, including the one above that was given out would you believe? After David Willey claimed his first victim of the match, England actually took a team hat-trick that included back-to-back run outs!

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Mark Wood (11-3-34-2) claimed two wickets in two balls to mop up the West Indies’ tail in their first innings.

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As well as Wood, James Anderson (2-39), Stuart Broad (2-32) and the critic silencing David Willey (2-25) each claimed two scalps as did run outs.

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It soon went all wrong for England though. The visitors were 32-6 at one stage in their second innings before Dawid Malan (34) and Mark Wood (24) grafted 63 for the sixth wicket. On GTL debut, Wood put a number of senior batsmen to shame. Captain Joe Root’s horror show of a competition continued. Scores of just 5 and 1 bring the Yorkshireman’s tournament total to a paltry 211 runs at a woeful average of 16.23. This is the worst of any specialist batsman in the inaugural Global Test League. Root has been able to get away with this whilst his team have been winning but when the team starts losing, both his captaincy and place in the team will come under scrutiny.

West Indies were left needing 154 for victory and though England occasionally checked the hosts’s progress and hinted at pulling off a heist when reducing the home side to 107-4, a missed run out chance put paid to their chances. Shai Hope (54 not out) and Roston Chase (24 not out) saw West Indies to a famous victory.

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Young Hampshire spinner Mason Crane bowled respectably enough in the West Indies first innings but was let down by numerous misfields in the second. Crane finished with figures of 16-1-66-0 but in truth there was little threat. His Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson (17 & 1) failed with the bat having been promoted to number six and barely turned his arm over (7.3-2-24-0) in this match. He now averages a competition high 382.00. A record not to be proud of!

Congratulations to West Indies on a thoroughly deserved victory. England now head to Zimbabwe having lost to them at home in the opening round of the competition. England need to get back to winning ways immediately at the race for the title of Global Test Champions hots up. With the hosts’ pitch expected to favour spin, the composition of England’s XI will be fascinating and may present an opportunity for England’s spinners to finally prove their worth. Mark Stoneman will be sweating over his place while the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid amongst others will hope for a recall.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Limited Overs, Limited Success!

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Following the decent start made to my career in the three-day game, I was looking forward to backing it up in the limited overs campaigns.

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However I endured a difficult time in the one-day matches. This was despite scoring my runs at a modern-day strike-rate of 164.28.

5, 6, 11, 16 & 31

No they’re not this week’s lottery numbers! They’re my 2018 fifty-over batting performances. In truth I just didn’t apply myself properly and only had myself to blame for finishing the season with a paltry average of 13.80.

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I did at least finish the campaign with an enterprising innings of 31 from just twelve deliveries against York, only succumbing in the final over when playing for the team and not my average!

My team Leeds finished a disappointing 5th place in the league.

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Having underwhelmed in the one-dayers, I found myself quite understandably demoted from position four to five in the batting order for the T20 matches. Though I again failed to record a half-century, I was pleased with my performances. Often coming in with only a few overs remaining, I registered scores of 32, 6, 31*, 24 & 4 at a whopping strike rate of 255.26!

In a repeat of the one-day affairs we finished in a disappointing fifth place in the league and so failed to qualify for the finals-day.

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Come the 2019 campaign, I’ll look to get back on the horse in the three-day season. I’ll need to readjust my mindset to batting for long periods of time and turning some of those 90s into big hundreds in order to gain selection for a professional outfit. Hopefully I can improve on my moderate start to limited overs cricket too.

Big Ant Studios have added¬†added depth to their career mode in this, their latest cricket game. In Don Bradman Cricket 17 you only played T20 matches at club level. On Ashes Cricket once again you find yourself playing in a regionalised league, in my case Northern England but the structure is no longer three rounds or so of exclusive Twenty20 cricket. With six teams in our league we played each team once in the three-day stuff, then again in both one-dayers and T20s with finals-days in place for both the one-day and T20 tournaments. It’s a much better way of structuring things. The three-day encounters allow you to potentially construct big scores and can have exciting climaxes as teams do seem to play to win and not just settle for what might seem easy draws. Not just slogging away in T20 matches is both far more enjoyable and provides extra layers of immersion to the game.

Regarding statistics, the club level stuff is all lumped together so that when you walk out to bat for your maiden one-day appearance the stats on screen show your three-day figures then combine from that moment forward. It’d be great if the three formats were separated but that is the case once you make it to professional level with individual statistics for First Class, List A and T20 as well as Test, ODI and T20I so it’s not the end of the world whilst plugging away on the amateur circuit.

I’ve found the Northern Cup a little spin dominated but I guess that’s fair enough, particularly in the shorter formats of the game. There’s added delicacy and realism to hitting some of the shots. A dabbed guide through gully or a straight six feels so rewarding as does occasionally playing through the shot too soon, getting underneath the ball and being caught. I’ve been bowled and edged behind to spin when I probably changed my mind during the delivery’s flight and whilst it’s frustrating to get out it feels genuine! I’ve performed better against pace bowling but the movement of some of the deliveries is awesome. The opposition have held every catch I’ve offered.

Yes I experienced a dodgy stumping, fell victim to a back-to-the-ball catch and the statistics could do with a little cosmetics but my experience of Ashes Cricket so far is an encouraging one. I do hope that it takes me only two or three years to get a professional gig though and not five or six! Offering a reminder, I’m playing on pro level, medium difficulty and medium selection difficulty. Oh and not forgetting the new buttons, yes they’re simpler but do still provide enough variety to retain depth and skill to batting in the game. I haven’t yet bowled outside of nets/training.

Disclaimer: I’m currently working on creating Test, ODI and T20I leagues in which to play as England and provide reports on but am waiting for some of the on-disc international teams to be complimented with real players.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Slogmaster/From Zero to Ninety in a Matter of Seconds!*

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*By seconds I mean upto two hours.

Start as we mean to go on! Yes that’s right, I ducked on debut but did make a stoic second innings four against the mighty Hull. Only by getting both my mind and fingers crossed between classic and standard buttons did I come unstuck. It’s the usual six local teams league structure but Career Mode now incorporates Three-Day, One-Day and T20 cricket making it impressively more immersive. I’ve signed up with Leeds and as well as Hull will enjoy days out to Bradford, Scarborough, Sheffield and York, flood defences provided!

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Against Sheffield I responded by reaching 19 before both a change in the commentary box (Thanks Mel Jones!) and the introduction of spin, immediately combined to distract me and send shivers down my spine. I’d fallen against spin in both innings on debut and followed suit here too.

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Come the second innings and with the field up, I launched a huge straight six early in the piece. It was my first career maximum and I struck another the following day. The bowling attack encountered was a challenging mix of both pace and spin as well as right and left-arm.

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I reached my maiden fifty, with a little help from my Kookaburra Ghost, at more than a run a ball. The sweep shot was particularly effective for me though in truth it often ended up being executed more like an out and out slog!. We’ll take the runs any way they come though!

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My avatar has ended up not looking particularly like me but my teeth have had a nice shine, although I appear to have an extra head growing out of my right shoulder. This is a concern because it could effect my batting!

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Whether or not either my glove or bat actually made contact with the ball that was caught behind off yet more spin to end my epic second innings inversion of my first innings score remains unclear. Just look at that crack. Off the richter scale in Yorkshire!

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Of course there’s no DRS at this level. I’m not bitter at the decision though, only proud of my innings of 91. Of course a further nine runs would have been welcome but though I could barely open my eyes as I left the crease, deep down I know that my career best knock puts me in good stead to attain my career ambitions.

Big Ant appear to have made huge strides with their follow-up to the Don Bradman Games and I can’t emphasise how much better club (Amateur) level is for having two innings matches. I’ll keep you up to date with my career travails as I begin the quest for Yorkshire and England recognition. For the record: I’m middling every difficulty level, that’s pro level (So 3rd out of 5) and medium specifically on the batting and bowling front as well as selection difficulty and am playing on a PlayStation4 console.

The Eagle has Landed!*

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*By eagle I mean Ashes Cricket.

It’s a sorry state of affairs that when you receive a new game you find yourself pointing people in the direction of the bug forum. For those crazy run outs, dodgy stumpings and incalculable averages then follow the rules and let Big Ant know. Then we might just get a great game!

https://www.planetcricket.org/forums/forums/ashes-cricket.312/

All being well though, I’ll soon be providing you with updates on how my career is faring and how England are getting along too.

See you soon…

Disclaimer: Please¬†excuse my pessimism. Maybe my version of the game won’t contain any bugs!!!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Pre-release Gameplay

Here’s some pre-release gameplay for Ashes Cricket, due for release on November 16th. It’s dawned on me that it’s worth pointing out this is somebody else’s video, before anybody gets the impression that’s me spouting insight about the game. One completely random thing that I noticed amongst some really encouraging stuff in this clip, is that the batsmen’s feet don’t seem to disappear into the ground as they did in Don Bradman Cricket 17!

As mentioned before, I’m led to believe that you can do everything you could on DBC 17, for example: Career mode, custom leagues and tournaments as well as players and kits etc. You’re not just limited to playing the 2017-18 Ashes!

According to the clip, there’s 32 face scanned Australian players and 28 English. This should help clarify concerns regarding the composition of the on-disc squads prior to implementing any customisation.

The suggestion in the video is that the game has become easier. I previously read that the lower levels are more arcade like but the harder skill levels are still tough. Big Ant are bound to have toned things down a little as they try to attract the casual pick up and play gamer via the Ashes tag but I seriously hope this game hasn’t been dumbed down too much. The beauty of the Don Bradman games was that they were demanding!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): You, Me and Virtuality!

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Been missing my Don Bradman write-ups? Cricket Captain and its graphs and charts just not the same? Well fear not Silly Pointers because with the release of Ashes Cricket soon upon us, my PS4 based cricket adventures are about to begin again!

Come the release of Big Ant’s third (DBC14/DBC17/Ashes Cricket) venture to the crease, you can look forward to the following:

  • Yours truly setting out on a career and this time getting a county gig before the age of 26, a batting average at least in the twenties and international recognition… hopefully!
  • England participating in newly formed Test, ODI and T20I leagues. As per my previously detailed plans to restructure world cricket, I would ideally amalgamate all formats and create the Global Cricket League (GCL) but that is beyond even Big Ant’s customisation boundaries.
  • The Stateside Smash (Something that I’m confident is within Big Ant’s customisation boundaries). Los Angeles Ashes, New York Nightwatchmen and Houston Apollo are just some of the franchises rumoured to be signing up.
  • Original jazzy kits and funky bats designed by yours truly.

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Silly Point himself registering a First Class century, England becoming Test champions of the World, a razzmatazz USA based T20 league, Mark Footitt winning an England cap and Ross Whiteley turning out for Phoenix Free Hitters. These are all things that could happen… if not in reality then in virtuality, in Big Ant’s Ashes Cricket!

 

Ashes Cricket (PS4)!

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Well well well. Having switched to Cricket Captain 2017 on the MAC and just when we’d all given up hope on Big Ant Studios and the future of console cricket, just look what’s coming out in November this year…

https://www.bigant.com/fully-licensed-ashes-cricket-video-game-to-launch-this-summer/

Don’t be put off by the Ashes tag either. Details released advise that the usual customisation elements of Don Bradman Cricket games are there: Career mode, unparalleled customisation and women amongst other elements. Let’s hope the bugs that were prevalent in Don Bradman Cricket 17 have been well and truly ironed out for the PS4, XboX One and PC release but this is extremely welcome news for the cricket gaming community.

Here’s a a teaser trailer on YouTube…

Just look at the pockmarks on Mitchell Starc’s visage. The realism! This is actually now the main reason why I wouldn’t want to be a professional cricketer, to have my ‘unblemished’ skin on the big screen. Oh and a cork and leather combo coming at me in excess of 90mph!

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Hopefully England’s batsmen can produce a few more innings like this one by captain Joe Root come Ashes Cricket’s release!