Michael Vaughan Cricket 06/07

Timing is everything in cricket, so Player One must be kicking its stumps over in disgust.

Not only has it released its second Michael Vaughan cricket game after months of England cricketing underachievement, but the captain himself is out until early next year with a dodgy knee. It's hardly the best time to try and sell a cricket title with his name attached.

Of course, the ability to rewrite England's sorry form is appealing, too, and unlike the team this game sports several improvements over last year's version.

You now play as one of eight international teams – although only England have fully accurate player names – and can choose to play a single match, a tournament, or a series of challenges.

Matches can be five, ten, 20 or 50 overs in length. Yes, that's 50 overs: a full one-day international, in other words. If you're worried that your mobile battery won't last, rest assured that the game saves your position after every ball, enabling you to play this marathon over the course of a week or so. Whatever next, a full test match?

Anyway, the real improvements are in the match engine. As much as we liked last year's Michael Vaughan Cricket, it was a bit of a slogfest. The 06/07 version has much more tactical depth. For starters, every player's been given their own attributes for batting and bowling.

When batting, a higher Awareness stat lets you see where the ball will pitch earlier, while a good Timing score makes you less likely to hit dodgy edges. Power dictates how far you can wallop the ball (or not). Meanwhile, bowlers have their own ratings like Speed and Variation.

Batting and bowling are as simple as in the first game. To bat, you simply use the four directional keys to play a defensive stroke, a straight drive, or cut the ball right and left. Double-tapping the keys gives more advanced strokes, such as a hefty hook aimed straight for the boundary (or a well-positioned fielder if you time it wrong).

Another new feature in this version is that you control your players running between the wickets, aided by a neat isometric view of the field. It's a small change but one that adds tactical depth, enabling you to keep your better batsmen on strike, which is invaluable towards the end of an innings.

Bowling is a case of pressing the action key to set the length and line of your bowl, but only after choosing from your bowler's selection – outswingers, off-breaks, slower balls, doosras and googlies to name but a few. And the pitch gets more worn out as you play, giving you the option of bowling into the rough with canny spinners.

Once you've exhausted the regular modes, Challenge presents you with a series of scenarios. Score 30 runs in five overs, bowl four overs for less than 20 runs, or hit 25 runs in four overs against spinners on a turning pitch. They're all good fun.

We do, however, have two criticisms. One being the comments that Michael Vaughan pops up with, which can be annoyingly repetitive. Constantly cracking "I don't think that was in the gameplan" while you embark upon a batting collapse can be enraging.

Secondly, the game's pace is a bit, well, slow. This may seem a strange criticism for a cricket game, but the hints and tips that appear between overs seem to slow things down, as do the lengthy bowler run-ups.

Last year's version may have been less strategic, but it was more fun to fire up for ten minutes on the train and smack a few boundaries. Of course, many people would call that progress.

Despite these faults, Michael Vaughan Cricket 06/07 has cemented its position as top dog in the mobile cricketing world.

Michael Vaughan Cricket 06/07

Unlike its hero, this ace cricket game is most definitely not limping
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