Playing cricket with a joypad is a bit like playing tennis with an egg whisk. So thank heavens the good people at Radica have created Plug 'n' Play Cricket, an excruciatingly addictive plug 'n' play video game that allows you to swing and bowl your way to glory. Because instead of a normal controller, all you front room Flintoffs get to control the on-screen action with a realistic bat and ball. Yes, a proper bat and ball!
Howzat, we hear you ask? Well, when it comes to batting, ultra-responsive motion sensors in the base console react to the timing and force of your swing. Simply stand a few feet away from the base unit and 'wallop' the ball. Once you get the hang of swinging early and reacting to spin bowlers and fast bowlers you won't believe how realistic this pioneering plank of plastic is. It even features nifty Block and Run keys. Thankfully fielding is automatic, which is just as well because you wouldn't want to be leaping around in front of the telly.
The ball is even more ingenious as you have to use a proper bowling movement (without letting go) to hurl the on-screen ball stumpwards (yes, we made that word up). The degree of welly you use determines the speed of the ball, and the length of the throw is determined by a power bar that rises as your on-screen bowler runs up to the crease. But get this: the motion-sensitive ball also features a built-in directional pad and three buttons that determine spin and seam. Before long you'll be chucking leg-cutters, inswingers and a whole lot more. Joypads? Who needs 'em!
But what about the actual game? Well apart from its great graphics, thwack-tastic willow-on-leather sound FX and exceptionally in-depth gameplay, Plug 'n' Play Cricket allows you to compete at Club, County and International level. What's more you can take part in a 1-Day Match, a 5-Day Test Match or a full-on Tournament with 16 international sides. Any more realistic and you'd have to iron your whites, crack out the linseed oil and smear comedy sunblock on your hooter.
We think Plug 'n' Play Cricket is the most exciting thing to happen to cricket since England won the Ashes. Indeed here at the Firebox pavilion we can't stop batting and bowling in between breaks for tea...and work. So get ordering pronto - you'll be knocked for six!