Playing real cricket isn’t much fun. Batsmen have to waddle around with mattresses strapped to their legs and fielders are left praying a leather rock doesn’t fly into their face.
There is a more friendly alternative, though; Radica’s interactive video game.
As the name suggests, you don’t need a console to play Plug ‘n’ Play Cricket – it hooks up to any TV via the two AV sockets. Before the plugging and playing, though, you’ll need to go to the petrol station to pick up four AA batteries for the main console, and two more for the mini bat.
Don't knock it 'til you've tried it
Now you’re ready to play what Geoff Boycott calls ‘crickeet’. Once you’ve endured some truly terrible music, the menu displays a choice of a 1-Day Match (up to 50 overs) or 5-day Test Match (too many overs), which you can play one-player or with a friend.
Unfortunately, the game itself is tricky to master and doesn’t exactly ooze playability. The camera-angle – inside the strike batsman’s stumps – means that the bowler can’t see the target they’re aiming at. Instead, you just shake the ball to determine speed, then press one of three buttons to add seam or spin.
The batsman then has to judge the flight of the ball, and swing the bat over the console. Facing a bowler who can spin the ball five feet in either direction – a trick Ashley Giles should add to his repertoire – isn’t easy, though, and the sensor doesn’t always pick up your increasingly frantic movements.
The graphics can generously be described as ‘functional’ (think Sega Mastersystem era), and we found that bat’s ‘run’ button would be more aptly named ‘run your partner out’. Still, it all makes for some dramatic matches and quick innings.
Plug ‘n’ Play cricket is fine for hyperactive kids, but older players will find the experience exhausting and frustrating. If you want a classic video game sim of the gentleman’s game, buy a Sega Megadrive and Brian Lara Cricket on eBay.