Cricket has been played at the international level for nearly 150 years now. The first World Cup was played 47 years ago, and generations of kids have been imitating their heroes on the playgrounds and in the streets for decades. But what about those times when you couldn’t head out and play? How did you enjoy cricket then?
These days, millions play fantasy cricket on trusted apps like Howzat fantasy cricket app. Previous generations, however, had to use their ingenuity and come up with other solutions for those days spent indoors. Here, we look at some of the games that cricket lovers played in the days before mobile phones, tablets and fantasy cricket apps became so common. Some of them still have small cult followings.
If you belong to any generation that’s over 40 and you grew up in a cricket-playing country, the chances are that you would have spent many happy hours playing book cricket. Hours that your parents thought were spent studying were spent instead on creating epic matches with paper scorecards. The rules were simple enough. If you opened your book to a page whose number ended in 2, 4 or 6, you scored that many runs. If the page number ended in an 8, you got a single. Anything that ended with a 0 was out. Prior to the 1970s, book cricket lovers played Test matches. After 60-overs cricket, and then its 50-overs cousin, became popular, thanks to the World Cups, a new generation of fans switched to overs-based matches. Each opening of the book’s pages usually equated to 1 over.
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Tabletop Cricket Games
For those looking for something a bit more realistic, to play fantasy cricket (of that time), one of the options was tabletop cricket games. These were usually played with a big green playing mat, which represented the field, with fielding positions marked out and circles denoting where singles and 2s could be scored. For the boundaries, there was usually a plastic picket fence that ringed the mat. The batters came with a lever-type contraption that you could use to hit a small metallic ball. The ball itself was delivered from the top of a device that resembled a children’s slide. You could adjust the steepness of it to vary the pace of the ball being ‘bowled.’ The steeper the incline, the faster the ball came down. The fielders could be placed wherever you wanted on the field, and if the ball went into the V-shaped base that they stood on, you were out caught. Most of the time, though, the ball would be hit too hard, and the fielders would just topple over.
Cricket Computer Games
The hugely popular Cricket 97 was the benchmark for computer games. This included players and teams with realistic attributes, and gameplay that was quite realistic for 25 years ago. You could choose the lengths and pace you wanted to bowl, as well as any action you wanted to put on the ball. Similarly you could decide on a choice of stroke for every ball. These games, initially available on a CD, were incredibly popular because they handed over the destiny of a team to the player sitting behind the game controller, whether that was a keyboard or something else. For as long as it took you to master the game, it was great fun. After that, once scoring runs or taking wickets became almost too easy, some of the pleasure ebbed away.
The problem with computer games like Cricket 97 was that you had to take the CD everywhere with you and then find a drive to run it on. It wasn’t exactly something you could play in the office during a coffee break, for example. That was where Stick Cricket came into the picture and became the computer game of choice for a generation. It didn’t need a CD, and the game loaded on a webpage. It was ridiculously easy to use, with the stick figures playing quite realistic shots. Again, the challenge was in mastering it. initially, your stumps would be a mess most of the time. But once you got the hang of it, the fours and sixes would start to flow. There were various iterations, based on marquee series like the Ashes and World Cups, but the original version remained popular for years.
Most of these games, right from tabletop cricket to computer games, required you to exhibit some degree of hand-eye coordination to mimic what happened out on the field of play. It was a test of your motor skills as much as anything else. In that sense, the true forerunner of the present-day fantasy cricket apps was the Super Selector game started by a sports channel over 20 years ago. In it, as with fantasy apps like Howzat now, you had a fixed budget to work with and 11 players to select. Those players would then be assigned points based on their performances in the matches. The duration of the contests ranged from individual series to a month or more. At its peak, over half a million contestants took part in competitions, often causing the website to crash.
Apps like Howzat are the modern-day version of these games. Download the app now, and get playing fantasy cricket games. Select multiple teams for the big contests, and take on expert players from across the country. The prizes will only get bigger and better with every game.