Cricket's popularity, mechanics, and all-around awesomeness1 have led to a million and one different simulations, for those who are too unfit or too old or just enjoy "re-writing history" in their own way. These simulations range from video games to dice games, tabletop games to card games. The biggest card-based cricket simulation that I know of is Armchair Cricket, developed in the early 1980s by Norfolk House Enterprises and designed around the then-exploding popularity of limited-overs cricket (though with first-class matches still playable).

The cards I speak of are two decks, each consisting of five suits (balls, bats, gloves, pads, stumps) numbered 1-11, for a total of 110 cards. Ones are colloquially "dollies" (real-world cricket slang for a very simple catch) and elevens are colloquially "beauts". Players begin by selecting a team, then they are dealt seven cards and chuck out one. From this point on, players play with six cards in their hand (representing, obviously, six balls in an over). The "bowler" "bowls" a card; to score runs, the "batsman" must better this card by playing a card of the same suit and higher number. Intuitively, the greater the difference between the two cards, the more runs scored. The "batsman" also has two defensive options: to play a card of equal or lower value in the same suit, or one of equal or higher value in a different suit. To take wickets, the "bowler" must force the "batsman" to play a card of lower value in a different suit.

These "basic rules" are complemented by a set of advanced rules, which include the finer details of cricket and its mechanics such as extras (sundries), fielding, and lower-order batting. Essentially, the basic rules allow for beginners to play a simple game, though with better-than-average bowling and (consequently) lower-than-average scores; the advanced rules allow for advanced players or real cricket fans to play a full game, be it limited-overs or a full Test match. With these advanced mechanics, a full game can be carried out with a remarkably realistic scoreline, even in the modern era. There are a few things that the game doesn't allow for, however: rain and bad light have been left out (good!), field settings have been left out (bad), and real-world skill has been left out (YMMV).

Unfortunately, I find it hard to find opponents. Thirty years on, this game's popularity has pretty much declined to "cult following" status and people tend to prefer watching real cricket than playing these simulations. If the alternative is getting sunburn while eating a pie and drinking a beer in Bay 13 of the MCG, can you blame them?


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