Howzat! Great Yarmouth cricket simulator is a hit as reporter steps behind the crease
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A new sports simulator that pushes boundaries is looking to hit Great Yarmouth for six in what is a world's first.
Co-founded by former Kenyan international cricketer Runish Gudhka, Batfast is an innovative new cricket simulator, which allows people to step behind the crease and test themselves with the bat.
Set up in Great Yarmouth market place, the game sees participants pick up a bat and try and notch up a high score - while a computerised bowler tries its utmost to claim a wicket.
Cleverly integrating an automated bowling machine with a projection, it appears to the batsman that a character on screen is bowling at them.
Mr Gudhka, 27, who grew up in Kenya before studying in the UK, said: 'The simulator took about three-and-a-half years to develop and the idea was to try and create more opportunities for people to pick up a bat and give cricket a try.
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'Something I often hear about is people who play cricket at school, but don't tend to much afterwards as life gets in the way - education, families and the like.
'It's also much more difficult to practice cricket, as for a game to be worthwhile you need lots more people than to practice others.'
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Mr Gudhka, who had represented his country in one day internationals, added that he hoped the simulator would create opportunity for children who have never tried the game before to pick up a bat and have a go.
The former cricketer, who recently completed a masters in London, said he selected Great Yarmouth for the simulator's maiden run, after exploring other town's and cities around the country.
He said: 'We wanted to set up in a seaside resort to make the most of visiting tourists and talked to lots of places. However, when we spoke to Jonathan Newman the town centre manager, he was the most enthusiastic, being a big cricket fan himself and the town has been really supportive.
The automated bowler can vary its style and speed of delivery, and is capable of speeds of more than 60mph, though it can also bowl slower for beginners.
The simulator is going to be a permanent fixture for the town over the summer period, before ending its innings in the town on September 30.
Batfast is open from 10am until 5pm every day on a walk in basis and available by booking only between 5pm and 8pm.
Reporter at the bat
Reporter David Hannant was given the opportunity to test out the simulator for himself, facing two overs against the 'bowler'.
He said: 'Being somebody who hasn't play a great deal of cricket in my time, I found it quite challenging, but also a lot of fun.
'I'd never played against a bowling machine before so that took a bit of getting used to, but the image projection makes it easier to judge timing than just facing a machine and much more enjoyable.
'I also enjoyed the scoring method. You get certain points for hitting different parts of the enclosure so I managed to score 14 off my first over, when were it an actual match the same shots would have almost certainly have been dot balls. I was bowled in my second over though. Middle stump and all.
'I was quite happy with my knock until our photographer Nick Butcher picked up the bat for the first time in his life and notched up 15. It's definitely worth giving a go.'