Another Sheffield Shield century in front of my home fans follows an unbeaten 97* in the Big Bash League Final for the Sydney Sixers. A baggy green is so close I can almost taste it.
Sadly, this is not real life. This is Career Mode on Big Ant’s Don Bradman Cricket ’14 – a mode that sets the game apart from all others in the virtual cricketing world.
This is easily the best cricket game ever released on any console. In strikingly similar fashion to the real-life game, a player’s patience is rewarded with the willow in hand. Gone are the days of finishing a Test match before lunch on Day One.
It takes time to get used to all of the controls – things are a touch more complex since the most recent release of a cricket game – but once all the niggles are sorted out, you find yourself enjoying every shot you play.
Bowling is more challenging than it has ever been – again, gone are the days of a yorker guaranteeing you a wicket every delivery. More controls are utilised, suggesting one needs a little more skill in this game to pick up a five-for than in years gone by.
If it is taking you a while to amass serious runs or take a bag of wickets, just head over to the nets in the Practice Mode and you’ll be as menacing as David Warner or Mitchell Johnson in their prime.
Career Mode is nothing short of addictive. You have twenty years to forge a lasting legacy as one of the game’s greats, beginning in domestic cricket and working your way into a number of other competitions before the international selectors come knocking.
Big Ant has displayed a true understanding of the game. There is a button for appealing, a button to use DRS if you think a call hasn’t gone your way, and even a button for walking when given not out – although you might struggle to find someone that will use this in an online contest!
I have no qualms in declaring this the greatest cricket video game we have ever seen. The bar has been raised.