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Ilford shoppers at The Exchange hit for six by cricket simulator

PUBLISHED: 12:12 19 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:12 19 April 2018

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

Archant

Shoppers at The Exchange in Ilford have been hit for six this Easter as more than 1,000 of them picked up a bat and tried their hand at a real-life cricket simulation game.

Batfast is the brainchild of a former international cricketer and his childhood friend, and it gives anyone the chance to face an over from some of the world’s best cricketers - in CGI form.

Recorder reporter Liam Coleman even tried his hand at it!

Coming from a town in the North East that has produced England cricketers such as Steve Harmison and Mark Wood he fancied his chances against the simulator, however that wasn’t to be and his middle stump was left out of the ground after the first ball but it could only get better from there.

After getting into the swing of things he managed a top ten score and said: “It’s great, you do really feel like you’re facing a bowler, and the fact that the speed and length of the ball can be changed each time makes it even more fun.”

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket SimulatorReporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

The simulator was on level three of the shopping centre for two weeks, from Thursday March 29 until last Sunday (April 15) and tonnes of people of all ages and abilities have took stance at the wicket and faced an over or two.

Once padded up (not really) - the user sees a virtual bowler - which can be customised to display real-life cricketers - running in to bowl a delivery at them before the ball is released.

The aim of the game is to hit the ball as straight and as hard as possible, and the straighter you hit the ball the more runs you score.

The speed, pitch and direction of the ball can all be tailored ball-by-ball via a phone or tablet.

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket SimulatorReporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

Shopping centre marketing manager Jodi Meadows said that it has been extremely popular with the people of Ilford.

She said: “We are delighted with the results, we’ve had nearly 1,600 people have a go.

“People of all ages and abilities have been coming down, and I’ve spoke to the guys running the simulator on a daily basis and they’ve genuinely been impressed with the level of talent of the people taking part.

“Some people have never played cricket before but they have had a go and really enjoyed it and then kept coming back every day to give it a go.

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket SimulatorReporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

“It has been extremely popular with our shoppers and local community, adding value to their shopping experience, bringing people and communities together in the process”.

Jodi said that the shopping centre has already got some exciting things planned for the centre over the summer but couldn’t tell us much more just yet.

She said: “We always try to give families something exciting to do over the school holidays and Batfast has proved to be a massive hit.”

Co-founder of Batfast, Runish Gudhka, played cricket for Kenya and said he was impressed with the talent in Ilford.

Reporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket SimulatorReporter Liam Coleman tries out the Batfest Cricket Simulator

He said: “We’re delighted to have had such a successful installation at the Exchange and seen so many people in the local area trial our simulator.

“We’ve had a great response from the people of Ilford, and I’ve just been down for one day to help out but everybody has really enjoyed it.

“Our aim is to get more people playing cricket and Batfast provides a fun and engaging way to participate in cricket indoors or outdoors in all conditions.

“We’ve seen people of all ages trial our simulator and had queues throughout the day of visitors wanting to give it a try. With the 2019 Cricket World Cup hosted across England and Wales and interest in the sport set to boom, we hope that we can play an important part in helping more people pick up a cricket bat for the first time or reignite their interest in the sport.”


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