The first thing you should do when this loads is hit Shift-and-Space to BREAK into the program and then RUN it again - otherwise you're missing an eye-watering title screen that this animated GIF can only hint at!
Andrew says this is based on a program written on a Prime Computer in 1990 for his A-Levels. I had to look that one up and I emplore everyone to check out this You Tube video in which Tom Baker - as Doctor Who himself - spectacularly reminds us of how far computing has come in the last 30 years!
After two pages of instructions, which completely failed to embrace the CSSCGC tradition of lazily wrapped text, I was none the wiser as to what this was all about. A quick squint at Wikipedia saved me from further embarassment, however, and it was on to the game whereby I entered a 'difficulty' of 1 and selected my preferred team - the mighty Sussex Sharks! (What would we do without Google - Ed.)
I'm not sure if it's a bug, lazy programming or Andrew being secretly ironic, however, the first team you play is yourself. Bonus points for providing a free juvenile joke to this review!
The match begins and, at the beginning of each of the 5 overs, you enter your 'required run rate.*' The action plays out, some runs are scored (all off-screen, natch) and, hopefully, your 'Run rate required' will drop enough such that, at the end of the match, you win.
* which, by now, I expect we're all familiar with the concepts and mathematical formula behind?
Entering too low a value will mean your run rate doesn't decrease by enough in 5 overs, whereas, entering too high a value will mean lost wickets. In either case you lose. Get the balance right and you win.
I did look at the maths behind this, however, I went a bit cross-eyed and decided to use a brute force approach instead.
At first I just entered 10 each time, however, this high risk strategy rarely resulted in success. Next I mirrored the currently displayed 'Run rate required' exactly which generally resulted in the numbers creeping up, rather than down. Finally I hit upon a methodology that I'm hoping to submit to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the coming weeks:
Enter a run rate about 1.5 higher than the 'Run rate required' and press enter. If this doesn't decrease enough (A bit subjective, perhaps? - Ed) then raise your run rate to 2.5 higher on the next go. Fall back to 1.5 as a base each time.
I'm not saying you'll never lose, but I certainly made it to the final with this.
The rules (and, to be honest, the point) of Cricket are lost on me, however, the maths is sound and all the teams actually exist - including the unlikely sounding 'Unicorns' - so it all feels very professional and reminscent of Championship Manager to me. Naturally this sort of attention to detail does detract from the overall quality of this entry.
In an obvious attempt to redeem himself Andrew has removed many of the advanced error checking algorithms used in the original 1990 version of the program and so, when selecting the 'difficulty,' 'team' and each 'required run rate,' entering a non-numeric value results in a nice 2 Variable not found error.
Unfortunately, despite these minor flaws, nice touches such as Geoffrey Boycott's commentary and the Winner's Cup graphics simply add to an already polished product. If this had been released in 1990 then it would have needed a graphical representation of the match (and probably a celebrity cricket star's endorsement,) however, if Andrew had got his act together and programmed this in 1983 he could probably have made a few quid, as-is, in the Sinclair User classified ads.