For the longest time, the only cricket game of note was EA’s Cricket 07. Recently, however, the cricket game market has belonged to Big Ant and Big Ant alone. Today we’re going to look back at the features they pioneered or perfected, from Don Bradman Cricket 14 (DBC 14) to their latest effort, Cricket 19.
CRICKET ACADEMY: No, this isn’t a place where you can train your players to be better. This is the name of the player creation tool Big Ant created for the original Don Bradman Cricket, way back in 2014. It’s been updated since then for each iteration of the game, but at its core it’s still one of the strongest character creation tools in sports.
It must be, otherwise the community couldn’t have created every single international team from scratch and made them look so close to their living counterparts. Not only does the Academy offer an insane amount of customisability while making players, it was also an ingenious method of getting over the lack of licensed players in the base game, and for that I must give them props.
TEAR AND WEAR: In previous cricket games, everything was either pristine or horrible. If a pitch was flat and hard, it would continue to remain so, even if you were playing a test match. Even the ball shifted almost instantly from a bright cherry to a battered lump of leather and cork with no in-between.
In Big Ant games, however, you’ll see the bowlers’ footmarks appear alongside cracks all along the length of the pitch. You can even follow the ball’s wear, as one side slowly gets scuffed up in test matches until the half-shiny ball starts reversing. Even better, as you bat, you’ll start to see marks appear on your player’s once-pristine bet, matching your shots. Seeing red cherries appear on your blade gives you a good indication of how well you’re batting, as no one wants to see their edge littered with red.
FIRST PERSON MODE: DBC 14 was the first game to introduce first-person camera views into cricket, and I don’t know how I ever played without them. Not only does the camera make it easy to gauge the line and flight of deliveries, but the way it follows the ball goes perfectly with cricket’s golden rule: watch the ball. Even missing the ball is fun. If your player misses a pull, for example, the camera shoots right and left as the player searches for where the ball has landed. Failure has never been so entertaining.
CAREER MODE: Another addition that came with DBC 14, this was the first time a career mode had existed in a cricket game. About time, you have to admit, because no other game would benefit from focusing on only one player than cricket. Choosing to only bat and ball when your player is called upon makes sure you can go through matches at a reasonable pace. Going up the ranks from club to international cricket feels appropriately momentous.
FOOTWORK: Some arcade-y cricket games did away with footwork entirely while others only had a front/back foot selection system. Big Ant, however, has a classic batting system where not only do you need to choose front/back foot positions, but you also need to follow the ball. If a wide delivery outside off is bowled, for example, you need to tilt your analog stick to the front and right to follow the line of the ball, otherwise you’ll probably miss the ball. This makes sure your footwork matches the shots you want to play and makes batting as close to the real thing as possible.
Wasique Hasan writes to distract himself from the impending climate crisis. Also because it pays. Contact him at fb.com/hasique.wasan