The sports side of resource management games has long been sewn up by soccer-management sims such as Championship Manager and Football Manager. But with its myriad statistics, cricket seems like a natural fit: enter International Cricket Captain 2008.
'Captain' is something of a misnomer, however. As the captain of your international or county team, you don't actually bat or bowl, of course, but International Cricket Captain 2008 allows you to run training and recruitment, and select the team for each game. The statistical analysis is awesome in terms of volume and accuracy, and - as with the aforementioned football sims - following the 'career' of a favoured player is satisfying.
Throughout a season and career, you really get the feel for match situations and players, and enjoy the traditional slings and arrows of fortune, pitch and weather that make cricket itself such a compelling sport.
As the captain of a cricket team, morever, you have significant input in the tactics of each game. You can tell batsmen to attack or defend, tweak the batting lineup, set the field, instruct your bowler... in truth, tactics affect a game of cricket much more than football. In International Cricket Captain 2008, marshalling your troops through a long day in the field in a county match, chasing down a challenging target in a day-nighter or tryingto get that last over right in a 20Twenty thrash is both cerebral and nerve-jangling - just like proper cricket.
There are, however, a couple of significant flaws in International Cricket Captain 2008 that keep it as a fun diversion rather than the relationship-ruining addiction that is Championship Manager.
For one thing, the relative sanity of the cricket transfer market removes one of the most compelling aspects of football-mnagement sims. Although you can trade players, by and large you are stuck with the squad you inherit. (If, like your author, you are a proud Yorkshireman, for instance, none of your wicketkeepers is ever likely to offer much with the bat...)
More importantly - at times it's difficult to believe in International Cricket Captain 2008. It's no fun at all to watch a four-day game develop and then find that you lose it in the last over when your tail-end batsman inexplicably fails to go for the requisite runs. You don't always feel fully in control or responsible for wins and losses, which is poison for a sports management game.
Finally, player form is way too fickle. No-one minds a bit of luck in a management game, but - as the saying goes - form is temporary, class is permanent.
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