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Is Simulation the Future of Cricket?The Launch of PitchVision's Batting Simulator - the "Batting Studio" - at mainstream entertainment venue Bloomsbury Lanes in London has brought the future of the game into the spotlight.
The arcade-style batting lane, where anyone can face up to virtual bowlers and compete with friends, seems tiny compared to the behemoth "real" Test, ODI and T20 games. However, that doesn't detract from the wider implications, especially as this lane is the first of many worldwide.
What are those implications?
The world is changing faster than ever. Instant gratification is available with entertainment piped to you in ever faster ways. If you want to play a game you only have to reach into your pocket for your phone. If you feel like a movie or TV show you can stream it over your broadband connection. If you want to head out for the evening, the entertainment choices are staggeringly wide and relatively cheaper than ever.
Cricket responded to this flood with Twenty20. The IPL took it up another notch, turning the 3 hour game into whirlwind of celebrity, drama and hype. Alongside this, T20 changed the longer formats, with faster run rates, better fielding and more canny bowlers. The crash-bang-now culture is a long way from Test cricket's 5 days of glacial pace.
But it is the reality of most people nowadays.
The natural extension for cricket as entertainment (because that's what cricket is) boils it down even further than Twenty20 and into an arcade game played in real life.
We launched the Batting Studio last Friday night, and the reaction amongst the media, the boys from Ealing Cricket Club, the lads from nearby offices and university, and many of the girls and women there was remarkably similar: They were all engaged with game, engaged with the feeling of bat on ball, beating the field and scoring the most runs.
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