ESPNCricinfo, The Voice of Cricket is Trembling!

Being an ardent Cricfan, ESPNCricinfo is like the Bible to me. Like the pug from those Vodafone advertisements, I have been religiously following ESPNCricinfo ever since I had an internet connection. ESPNCricinfo happened to be my drug which did justice to my life’s ideology, “Cricket is life, rest is mere noise”.

But, it longer seems to bring in that positivity and adrenaline rush. With a heavy heart, I am admitting the fact that it has lost its mojo. There are vultures flying around to grab the piece of meat and the threats are serious. If not taken care now, people will drift away to other players like Cricbuzz & Sportskeeda and within no time relevant website traffic is surely going for a toss leaving to substandard viewership, thereby killing the voice of Cricket eventually.

I’ll be very honest and unbiased. Here are the things which are completely lagging in ESPNCricinfo currently

Not at all youth centric.
Cricinfo needs to break the barrier of monotonous technical reporting.  Even if they have to write technical blogs, they should make it interesting by relating it to something a youngster likes. For example the latest TV shows like Game of Thrones, True Detective, Breaking Bad and Suits. Hire young blood. Don’t be the Nokia of smartphone. Please evolve!

No focus on girls.
Females constitute 48% of India’s population. In an era of feminism, Cricinfo offers nothing to that segment. They must create some content keeping their interests like Travel etc. in mind.

Bad mobile app.
Considering the fact a lot of population travels in cabs and mobile is the way, this is a must. They are missing out on user engagement. I do not use Cricinfo’s app. It has TOO MUCH of content. They need to declutter it and make the app swift.

Very British.
Your average word length per blog is above 1000. They need to reduce it to maximum 700. And a slightly casual approach should be taken. It is high time Cricinfo invests in a bit of trolls and memes on social media with a bit of bantering on Twitter. Also, the Blogs are plain vanilla. No doodles/ caricatures are used to generate curiosity.

Presence on social media is less.
Cricinfo’s presence on Twitter, Instagram and Quora (the most user loving site after Facebook) is very minimal. Quora consists of variety of users with experts on History, NASA, Dating, Football, Books, and Photography etc. Moreover, there is no thought process to encourage user-generated content. Till day, I have not come across any promotion where guest writers are being encouraged.

The write-ups have become too insipid and the editor needs to revamp his strategy before it’s too late.

Bad Promotional Ads.
Also, their sponsored ads on Facebook aren’t well targeted. People do not have time to read so much. In case of Canvas ads, keep the best four with the catchiest titles for promotions. Half the people do not click because of the dull title. Ad copies need to break the shackle of mediocrity.

If I were to manage the editorial team for a day, here’s what I would put things to their table.  

Play the man, not the oddsThe fact that I have seen a lot of movies and sitcoms, I can easily play with the psychology of the reader as I understand what he/she wants. For example I wrote a blog why is Virat Kohli the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket, involving two of the most talked about personalities in Cricket and TV industry. It was not only admired but shared like anything.
I’d encourage more such write-ups.

Explain things to a layman – For instance if you would ask me to describe the difference between Lara, Tendulkar and Dravid. I would not even go into their records. I’d say –
Let’s say Cricket is a pizza.
Sachin is the cheese – Delicious. Loved by masses. Essence of it.
Lara is the topping – Veggies/Bacon/Jalapenos etc. Flamboyant to see.
Dravid is the crust – The foundation. Gets overshadowed with other lucrative layers but if not baked well, the rest won’t taste good.

I would suggest not to go by the copybook style of writing and try out such things.
This is surely going to be a big plus.

Woo women – Again, people who love to read are mostly females. They need to design content which the women would like by read by drawing parallels with the books they love or anyhow.  And don’t forget women gossip and they have a huge following. Once a female likes a Blog, she will tell 5 of her friends in person and just imagine a girl with thousands of followers sharing a Cricket Blog on her social media profile and the kind of men it would bring on the link. Pure organic bliss!

Quirky Merchandising – Cricket is no less than a Superhero. I designed this quirky piece of clothing sometime back. When Batman can sell, why cannot Cricket. Moreover with these new-gen kids going gaga over Football and their merchandise, it’s time to act cool and get push such products.

cricket-beer-gf


“In short, Cricinfo currently publishes what they think is right, ideally it should be the other way round.”

Their numbers have dipped from 150m to 100m in the past six months and more damage is expected to occur.

That’s it for the time being. I’ll update more loopholes. I care and cannot let the Voice of Cricket tremble!  I hope it reaches to some sensible person in the management and some adequate action takes place.

-Lalit Vijay

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi – The colonial hangover remedy!

Hailed as one of India’s greatest ever skipper, Pataudi defied reality. He lead India in all but six of the forty-six Tests he played and notched up nine Test victories, a winning ratio of meagre 22.5% against nineteen losses and twelve draws. These numbers reflect the unstable state of Indian Cricket at a point when India was struggling to catch-up with cricket-playing nations of the front rank.

He wasn’t a great captain statistically, no doubt.

But what he did, laid the foundations of an enduring team devoid of any barriers. His prime game- changing contribution to Indian Cricket was integrating and contemporizing it at the highest level. He didn’t make the players feel if they belonged to Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi. Rather, together as a unit, marshalled them to be the best in their domains and gave them the confidence to beat any team not only in the subcontinent but overseas too.

Tiger led the self-respect movement, inspiring them and gave them the ability to see them at par with their colonial counterparts. He thrashed that colonial hangover and gave the balls to the timid Indian squad to look right into the eyes of the world and allowed their game to do the talking.

Throughout the 60s, Tiger led India under serious constraint, given the limited resources at his command. The outstanding feature of his team-building was forging, sharpening and getting the best out of the world’s best spin attack. Without Tiger’s intelligence, there would have never been a combination of Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Venkatraghavan and Prasanna.

India and pace never go hand and hand and Pataudi was very well aware of this. Instead, he decided to carve his own niche and focused on working towards the Indian strength.

There was not a single instance where in a team was being built around a left-arm orthodox spinner, a maverick right arm leg-spinner and two world-class off-spinners. The greatest trick he played was to rotate them in tandem, bought fielders closer, gave a bowler all the liberty in the world and triggered panic in the mind of the batsmen. Not only did the bowlers rose to the occasion but the close-in fielders ignited spark through their fielding at a time, when India was considered to be one of the worst fielding units.

They didn’t win enough but told the world on the face that boss, team India has arrived to the party. Do not take us lightly anymore. He instilled the attitude of mutual respect and added a refreshing vibe to the Indian Cricket.

He believed in Cricket as a game of fierce opposition, fair play and sportsmanship. In a way, he was the Shammi Kapoor of Indian Cricket. If Shammi redefined Bollywood in 60s by wooing his heroines with passionate ardour, Pataudi changed the face of Indian Cricket by becoming the first cricketing superstar in India whose appeal involved a mix of brilliance, charm and charisma.

Apart from being an exceptional leader, he was a maestro in hitting cover drives and even defended runs at the same position while fielding. His reflexes were lightening quick!

Right through his school career at Winchester, England he had a reputation of a class Cricketer which paved way eventually when he went on to become the only Indian till day to captain either Oxford or Cambridge. That year he stared in a blaze of glory and would have broken all records for University Cricket, but for the most unfortunate injury which he suffered in a serious car crash and lost his right eye. Later, in spite of the injury, Mansur Ali Khan started his career in India in the year 1961 where he represented Delhi against North Punjab and never looked back.

His great performances post the accident is a testimony to his sheer fighting abilities, self –belief and passion for the game. Any other Cricketer would have given up when he stood up for his nation and delivered with pride. He just believed in playing fearless Cricket. Discipline was one thing that kept him going. The trait was evident at the parties and that too in Delhi, where procrastination is treated to be some sort of divine light.

Other players and captains have done better than him no doubt. For instance, Dhoni has more trophies than him, Kohli strikes better and Ganguly fared more aggressively but Pataudi belongs to an altogether different league, beyond numbers and comparisons.  Numbers do not provide justice to the royalty of the prince. In his case, it was all about triumphing odds and becoming an icon by inspiring the helpless Indian squad to become invincible in their game.  He evolved Indian Cricket.

Thank you Tiger Pataudi.

References – Pataudi, Nawab of Cricket.

How does it feel to not have a job!

Ever wondered how does it feel to not have a job? I mean when you had a job once but you are no longer employed, neither are you working for yourself. It happens when either you’ve been sacked, you’ve quit or you do not know what to do with your life anymore.

It’s scary! Been there, done that. I belong to the league where I had quit my white-collared 9-5 IT job which paid enough to have arranged a good Punjabi bride at the age of 25. Instead, I ran behind my dreams, invested my time and money into my passion, found my true love in the process and started my own company which failed miserably after a year or so. But it did teach me the most valuable lessons of my life.

The failure made sure that I realize the value of money. Who your real friends are? How badly your relatives want you to fail and more importantly what I wanted to do in my life. So, coming back to the phase where my parents wanted me to go back sit in the same air-conditioned office which suffocated me every time I wrote a line of code. I was sure that I wanted to be into associated with writing, something which I really liked or the only thing you could say I was good at.

I was at the crossroads, torn apart between a failed son and a rising self. That was the phase of a few days, I mean very few wherein I was at home, doing nothing and everything pointed to just one thing – you are a loser man!

Here are the things which make you feel worse! –

a) Your parents think you have lost it. You are a just an immature kid who doesn’t have any sense of direction in life.

b) Actually they don’t think that. The relatives make them feel so. I honestly, despise majority of them for the very same reason. They make you feel like a piece of shit. Everything boils down to just two things -CTC & BHKs. It depresses you to the very core.

c) Your confidence is crushed every time when you open Facebook.

d) You overthink and every statement made by others either looks like a taunt, sarcasm or an insult.

e) You start doubting yourself whether are you the good for nothing guy, really?

f) The above point becomes too overpowering when the maid asks the question everyday– “Bhaiya aaj bhi office nahi gaye?”

g) You cut down on your hobbies, your lifestyle and and basically self-pity takes over.

h) You become desperate to not talk to anyone, you keep sinking in a cocoon.

Okay, enough of sad stuff, now the positives. –

a) Since, you do not have money at all, you learn how to survive with the bare minimum necessities. Eggs and Maggi become your best friends. Also, your liver thanks you every day for giving it a break.

b) You start valuing your skill.

c) You figure out people you can bank upon. Ultimately it boils down to your parents and 1-2 very close friends at max. I was lucky, I had another very special person backing me all the way. My Love!

d) Auto- decluttering: Time has its own means to filter out people from your life. I wouldn’t say that crap – We are all busy. We need not stay in touch but at the end, I’ll be there. Bullshit! If you haven’t heard from me in 6 months, I’ve cut you off!

e) You start appreciating small things.

f) You realize that it’s a fake world.

Ultimately, time and your passion heals everything. I too moved on gracefully in a span of a few days.

I’m not the advice person usually but this phase can fuck you big time, so, one advice I would like to give is to be on top of your game – you should be good at what you are doing/ intend to do and never listen to anyone. Go blindly with your heart. You have nothing to lose as you’ve already hit the rock-bottom and you’ll eventually earn your money and self-respect back.