Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cricinfo is Taken over by ESPN

These days every week one hears about an Indian firm taking over a foreign firm. Each time I hear about it my heart swells with pride. But yesterday when I heard, that an Indian firm (well origanally Indian) was acquired by an American Firm (ESPN) from a British firm (Wisden) I am all the more overjoyed. Not so much rueing that an Indian firm is bought out by foreigners, but an Indian company is so successful, that even an American firm buys the website when few Americans play cricket (apart from the South Asian Immigrants)

I am sure all you cricket fans out there know what is Cricinfo. By far the number one website for cricket, especially if you are an indian fan and are working on weekdays, there is nothing better than cricinfo which gives ball by ball commentary.

I have been following Cricinfo some time since 2000 (about the time I had a PC at home) and the cable wallah blocked ESPN Star for all those pay channel issues.

The website is absolutely amazing, not only for indepth coverage of each game, but also with stats and all that cricket trivia which comes along with that.
The commentary is ideal for a person while working in office to have a look at frequently and be well updated about the match in progress.
Agreed the commentary has a huge amount of India bias at times (especially earlier whn the entire team was Indian and the matches held in India)

The story about cricinfo is also fantastic. It was put together by a bunch of semi amateurs in 1993 and then in 1999 Sify funded them. (about then the PC penetration went up in India, and also Infy TCS and Wipro started hiring loads of software engineers who had to warm the bench for a few months at a time. what better method to spend the day than reading the commentary on cricinfo)

In 2003 the website was acquired by Wisden (the one with the Cricketers Almanack) and thus there was more international coverage (including domestic cricket not only in India and England but all around the world) . By today it has over 7 million hits every day, and is the number one cricket website all over the world. The reason that ESPN has acquired the site is that it is the number one sports website visited by a huge Indian population (yes all our H1-B visa holding software engineers, all the students in graduate school) and thus made a good investment.
ESPN with its asian partner Starsports already was a major broadcaster for cricket in the Indian Subcontinent (till BCCI and all other problems started) Thus this is one more arrow in their quiver.

The website is growing so fast that it has been acquired thrice in 8 years, and I am sure one day we might see it as a separately listed firm. Also this is a signal for all those tech start ups, to believe in what they do, and then sky is the limit for growth. More over unlike my mum telling me that watching cricket does no one any good apart from the rich over paid cricketers themselves, some cricket geeks did manage to eke out a living by simply watching the game, and writing about it.

The Site not only had the stats about each and every player, but also special columnists
Like Steve Lynch's Ask Steven answering all your doubts about rare incidents and trivia
S Rajesh's Numbers Game comparing the latest statistics and the players current form
Todays Yesterdays saying what all happened on the same day in previous years in cricketing history and many more

Another unique feature that not only I have noticed but discussed this with friends is the nature of the commentary. It is much more light hearted and fun ot read rather than hear ex-cricketers drone about on Doordarshan.
this coupled with the reader feedback (due to the internet it becomes an interactive system) the system makes me feel some times its better to follow the match on cricinfo rather than watch live on TV.

And after living in London for over a year now, when I dont have a TV at home there has been little other choice (apart from going to a pub and watching it there)

All I hope is even with the new owners (especially Americans who do not play or follow the game ) the website retains its character, its colourful commentary and the trivia databases.

I would like to end this with a few bits of hilarious commentary from cricinfo (though i am sure its a lot more funny when read in context)

Bravo runs faster than he bowls. His last delivery was so slow, , the non striker nearly over took the ball before it reached the batsman.

(Harmison gets a wicket after a really torrid over) ... Harmison to Ganga, OUT. Come one it is tough for any one to face Harmison. Will the next ball be a wide, a no ball, or both? Should I go forward or stay on back foot, or simply watch the ball sail over my head to the fine leg boundary?

I would like it if you readers could post some commentary which you find really funny as well

1 comment:

Samyak said...

abe kabhi to update kar.

u do have a few loyal readers.