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ESPN Cricinfo is ready for WC 2015. Are you?

With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 just five days away, it is natural that we journalists are busy working on special stories for the tournament hosted by Australia and New Zealand. It was during one of these stories that the new ESPN Cricinfo app came in handy.

One of my colleagues was working on a story that looked at all the pivotal moments from all the World Cups down the line. One of those moments was from the 1999 edition, the second semi-final played between Australia and South Africa at Birmingham – the match was tied. We were trying to figure out which Aussie player threw the ball initially to bowler Damien Fleming, who then hurled the ball to the striker’s end for wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist to clip the bails and dismiss Allan Donald. We kept playing the YouTube clip on a loop but to no avail. Finally, we decided to change tack and went to the “Archives” section in the ESPN Cricinfo app – the app has archived information and stats of all matches since 1910. One swipe to the left and we reached the scorecard for the match, which gave us the right answer – Mark Edward Waugh.

A revamped look

With all new features, the ESPN Cricinfo is a cricket fan’s delight, for not only can one get ball-to-ball updates from all the matches, but polish one’s cricketing gyan with the immense amount of information on offer.

“We have relaunched the iOS and Android app, and the Windows Phone app will also be available in time for the World Cup,” said Nirmal Kizhakkeveetil, product manager, mobile, ESPN Cricinfo. “When it comes to the native elements in the app, they will change according to the user device, but the user experience and features will remain the same,” Kizhakkeveetil said. One of the new features introduced in the revamped version of the app, Kizhakkeveetil said, was the integration with Google Now, which means that “users will get regular updates (in the form of Google Now cards) about their favourite team”, including pictures, scores and so on.

For the new app, users are the focal point. A couple of other features – a bit of old and new – will ensure that users will not only see the content but contribute to it as well. “Another feature that was available on the previous version but has been revamped is the ‘Cricket on Twitter’ section. This section makes it easy to interact with tweets.” Kizhakkeveetil said. Users can also “have their say” in a new section called “the Stands”. “For the first time, users will be able to post real-time content from the stands. They can write and upload pictures. The idea is to get users involved in writing for the sport,” added Kizhakkeveetil.

Game plan

When it comes to content, Gaurav Thakur, director, business development, ESPN Cricinfo and ESPN Digital Media, believes the “depth is immense”. “There have been significant changes in the app. It is much quicker now. The UI (user interface) has also been streamlined, while the depth of content is immense. For some initial testing, we crowdsourced the app and the feedback has been very good,” said Thakur.

The app also has a dedicated section for this year’s World Cup. But what after the tournament is over? “The World Cup is a huge tournament, so we created a dedicated section in the app. But Cricinfo is a global app, a brand that covers each and every match. We have a huge fan base not only in India, but also in the US and Australia. The IPL [Indian Premier League] will be starting right after the World Cup, so we will be focusing on that as well … all the other events will be covered equally,” Thakur added.

Since the World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand, there is bound to be some time difference for Indian cricket fans. To ensure that the updates reach the users on time, ESPN Cricinfo has people who will be working round the clock. “We already have a studio set up in Australia. Apart from that, we have a team in Bengaluru that will be working round the clock,” said Kizhakkeveetil.

An in-house team will also bring out real-time videos related to the matches. “‘Match Point’ will be providing a real-time analysis of all the proceedings. We also have an expert panel, with the likes of former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, for regular match analysis,” Kizhakkeveetil added.

There were not many advertisements when I used the app, so expect some smooth navigation. Both Kizhakkeveetil and Thakur believe the user experience will have no glitches whatsoever. “The revamp has been carried out keeping in mind the score navigation and user flow. Across all the platforms, the content has been placed to make sure that users feel at home,” Kizhakkeveetil added.

SMART PITCH

  • Integration with Google Now: Regular match updates for users
     
  • Dedicated World Cup 2015 section: A sneak peek of the venues; relive some important World Cup moments with the Countdown and Timeline features
     
  • Countries: Surf news, videos and features on any cricketing nation or your favourite team
     
  • Most Wanted: The lowdown on the most viewed/searched players in the last three days
     
  • The Stands: ‘Have your say’. Real-time content from the stands, for the fans by the fans

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