Call me a traditionalist if you like, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Stick Cricket.
While the graphics are fun, and the thrill of timing six pick-ups in a row over mid-wicket is pure, there’s a reason it’s entered the wider lexicon to describe an unlikely spree of six-hitting – it does little to resemble proper match-play, the ebbs and the flows, the passages you have to give to the bowler, and the satisfaction is lessened because of it.
Pocket Cricket is something else entirely. Like all good online games, and like Stick Cricket, the core mechanic is a simple one. You have to click your mouse when an arrow lines up with a specified area. Get it in the green and you’re golden, in the yellow and you should be fine, and miss altogether and you’re in trouble.
However, unlike Stick Cricket, and like actual cricket, your hand-eye coordination can only get you so far, and what will truly determine your success or failure is the decisions you make before actually ‘playing’ your shot. Every ball a target comes up showing where the ball will pass the batsman, and you have to choose where and how hard to hit it, with different choices giving you a different likelihood of success.
But the true genius of the game lies in a form rating assigned to each player, which changes during the course of a game. Get a few out of the middle, and you’ll find it easier to continue to do so; you can even leave the ball as you attempt to get your eye in. And if you give a bit of tap to a particular bowler, the arrow will move slower, making them easier to hit, and the supply of long-hops and half volleys will increase. It is, in short, as close to actual batting and building an innings as you can get inside your own home, and right now, that’s something we need more than ever.