International Cricket Captain - The Ashes Edition 2001
a game by Empire Interactive
With the weather refusing to commit itself, we are left only with the gnawing lack of football and the numbing prevalence of cricket to validate that summer is actually here. Further verification comes from the timely release of Empire's perennial Pimms and pavilion affair, this latest incarnation conveniently coinciding with the historic Ashes series, in which England is traditionally humbled by a bunch of barbie loving colonials.
As any fool knows, the best thing about cricket is the music. With the possible exception of Match Of The Day, there is no more rousing sports theme tune than that which has traditionally accompanied televised cricket. You know the one we mean, and even if you have no interest in cricket whatsoever, it's difficult not to turn up the volume and revel in its gleeful exuberance. The tune is Soul Limbo by Booker T & The MGs, and it's commendably included here. A superb start then, and one that is indicative of the authenticity of the game, which also comes with the endorsement of Wisden, the long-established cricket watcher's bible.
Before we waste any more of your time, we should point out that this is by no means an arcade game. If you're expecting to control a poorly animated cricketer and thrash about wildly with a bat, we're sure that EA Sports will be able to provide you with something along those lines. International Cricket Captain is more concerned with management of the team, and as such enables you to watch poorly animated cricketers instead. We might as well get the graphical jibes out of the way now: no, the screenshots aren't corrupted, yes, it does look like a Commodore 64 game.
However, this doesn't particularly detract from the playability, as the graphics are there simply to enable you to watch the highlights, or otherwise, of your innings. Allied to the soothing tones of the BBC's Jonathan Agnew, and some mildly convincing crowd noises, it's adequate. The attention to detail also becomes apparent, with players saluting half-centuries and so on, and even the third umpire being called in for particularly close decisions.
Bat & Ball
As for interaction, the field can be arranged to any formation you choose, either preset or one of your own design. Bowlers can be selected, and the length and position of their 'throw' decided. In theory, a more aggressive approach will yield more wickets, but risk giving away more runs. Conversely, a defensive stance will offer limited opportunities for either. As for batting, it's slightly less involving, with only the aggression of each batsman variable, although this can be adapted to particular bowlers.
And guess what? It's a strangely compelling experience, despite the fact that there's an overriding feeling that you are not so much playing the game, as simply keeping an eye on it. However, it can't be fooled, and victory requires solid tactics and concentration. Suffice to say, we couldn't even win the toss.
There is a wealth of statistics to take in, with an in-depth career mode that will keep cricket fans off the streets for months. In some ways, ICC is as close as cricket games come to Championship Manager. Unfortunately, it's not quite close enough.
2018-11-02 International Cricket Captain - The Ashes Edition 2001 game added.