Ashes Cricket 2009

Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 (known as Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 in Australia) was the last Cricket video game endorsed by Brian Charles Lara. Brian Lara was a West Indian left-handed batsman, and he is considered one of the batting greats of all time. With his retirement in 2007, it was the right time for Codemasters to rebrand their famous Cricket series; the Brian Lara Cricket series would become something else.

For the next game in the series, Codemasters decided not to name it after a legendary player. Instead, they decided to go with the most famous Test Cricket rivalry of all times, “The Ashes,” so the game was titled Ashes Cricket 2009.

The Ashes has a history of more than 100 years. It’s a five-Test Match series played between England and Australia every two years. When England lost to Australia for the very first time on their home ground in the year 1882, this was quite shocking for the cricketing world. The very next day, an English newspaper called The Sporting Times joked around by writing an obituary, in which they claimed that English Cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”. The rest is history, and Ashes has been the biggest Test Cricket rivalry ever.

Ashes Cricket 2009

The Ashes name is most popular among cricketing nations — particularly in England and Australia — so Codemasters knew that borrowing the name for their new Cricket game would create excitement around the cricketing globe. But the reality is that no matter how big a brand name is, how enhanced the graphics and add-ons are, any game can still fall flat if the core gameplay does not have any substance. So with Ashes Cricket 2009, Codemasters needed more than just a name.

Thankfully, they managed to deliver. The gameplay was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors (Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 and Brian Lara International Cricket 2007).

The batting gameplay was vastly improved, and once you get used to how to play it, the real fun starts. The gameplay has a live cricket match atmosphere, thanks to the sound effects, core batting and bowling gameplay, and the commentary roster.

The game has one of the best commentary panels ever in a Cricket video game. Ashes Cricket 2009 features recorded voices from Jonathan Agnew and Sir Ian Botham (England), Tony Greig and Shane Warne (Australia), and Ian Bishop (West Indies). The game earned relatively good reviews, and it seemed that the Cricket series was back on track.

International Cricket 2010 - Coin toss

Codemasters published a direct sequel, titled International Cricket 2010 and developed by Trickstar Games. It banked on mechanics and design elements from Ashes Cricket 2009, but the graphics and gameplay were enhanced. There were definite improvements in the animations and bowling actions. However, the biggest improvement was the brand-new Action Cam, which put you right on the pitch.

The development team believed the Action Cam was the future of Cricket video games. From the fans’ perspective, though, this new angle was a good concept that needed some improvement in order to achieve its lofty objective. The players did have other camera angles, like the broadcast mode, which has always been a hot favorite for Cricket games.

Just like Ashes Cricket 2009, International Cricket 2010 had a good roaster for its commentary team. David Lloyd (A.K.A. Bumble) was a major addition to the already strong commentary lineup. While the commentary in both these games was not play-by-play like a real match, it was better than having nothing.

Both Ashes Cricket 2009 and International Cricket 2010 only licensed Australia and England; the rest of the teams had generic player names. However, the latter game stood tall compared to the former in all aspects. This cricket series was going to get even better and better. As IGN put it in their International Cricket 2010 review:

With some more refining tweaks and the acquisition of a few more licenses, next year’s game could certainly knock off Shane Warne Cricket ’99 and become the greatest cricket game of all time. As it stands this is a game that’s merely good, with the potential to be great. Kind of like the current Australian team.

Who would have thought that the International Cricket 2010 would be the last Cricket game by Codemasters? Their focus would shift to racing games almost exclusively. Trickstar Games would follow International Cricket 2010 with Ashes Cricket 2013, but Codemasters wasn’t involved, with 505 Games handling publishing duties. Unfortunately, the game did so poorly that it was pulled from shelves just days after its release. But that’s a story for another time…

It’s hard to imagine what the current state of Cricket video games would be had Codemasters stuck with it, but I think it’s safe to say that it would be a completely different world than the one we’re living in currently.

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