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'Cricket gaining popularity in Latin American countries,' says CricHeroes founder Abhishek Desai

New Delhi, June 20: Cricket is one of the most popular games in the country and millions in India have played the Gentleman's Game at some stage in their life. There were times when the cricket enthusiasts recorded the proceedings of the game using scoresheets. Even in the gully cricket or local tournaments in the remote areas, the enthusiasts could be seen doing the scoring to maintain a record. However, with the advent of the smartphone revolution and in times of digital boom, the cricket scoring has also gone digital which greatly helps the cricketer enthusiasts.

One of the most popular cricket scoring applications is CricHeroes, which was conceptualised and created by an Indian and is being accessed by millions across the globe. CricHeroes is a mobile-first platform that is building an ecosystem around grassroots cricket. The app helps grassroots cricketers to showcase their talent and get recognition backed by data.

Abhishek Desai - a serial entrepreneur and the founder of cricket scoring app CricHeroes - in interaction with MyKhel explained how it is helping thousands of aspiring cricketers to shape their careers from the grassroots level and how they've witnessed the growth of the sport around the world.

Here are the excerpts:

MyKhel: How did the idea of creating CricHeroes come to your mind?

Abhishek Desai: The idea germinated in 2016 when I was looking for new ideas to work on. Prior to this, we were working with DigiCorp - a software development start-up firm - which I started with my college friends. In 2016, I realised that there's no digital cricket scoring platform that a layman or amateurs can use while playing their games. I did my own survey in my city and came to the conclusion that there is a dearth of a common digital scoring platform that cricket enthusiasts and grassroots-level players can utilise.

Due to the unavailability of such a platform, a lot of issues happen as amateurs didn't have an option to keep their scorecards digitally stored and get those meaningful insights. One couldn't back their stats/claims in the absence of data if there was a discussion about how good a cricketer he/she was. Since we come from an IT background, we ourselves thought of creating a digital scoring application that could help the common people. So, I presented my plan in front of friends and family and managed to raise some funds to start CricHeroes Pvt Ltd as a separate entity and launched it in October 2016.

MK: How satisfied with the journey of CricHeroes in the last six years?

AD: We've been very happy with the journey so far. Right now we have a 14 million registered user base who have scored more than two million matches on the platform. More than 150000 leagues have been scored. More than 200 Cricket Associations are using CricHeroes as their official scoring platform, which includes State Associations of India affiliated with the BCCI, ICC-affiliated countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, etc. The best thing about CricHeroes is that whatever growth we have witnessed, it has been organic, so it has purely been word-of-mouth publicity. We have spent very little amount on marketing. The last two years of Covid-19 did impact us as we lost a couple of seasons due to the pandemic.

MK: How helpful has it been to the Associations and to the players?

AD: We have created some unique system modules for the state associations which are not useful to normal cricketers. One of those modules is 'web insights' which is helpful to selectors and coaches. We also present the data from team perspectives to the associations to help them gauge the talent and potential of a player better. Those insights help them pick up better players for a specific position and/or create a stronger team, that's one advantage of CricHeroes. The second advantage is that instead of all the paper scoresheets everything is stored digitally so it can be accessed by anyone and anywhere. So, the match results, scorecard, statistics, and even live streaming is available at their fingertips. The third thing is transparency, it helps the associations pick up a team transparently.

MK: How do you work on creating these insights? Do you have a data mining team or do the algorithms fetch them for you? How do the insights help?

AD: So my co-founder Meet Shah has played for Gujarat at U-15, U-17, and U-23 levels. His knowledge helped us in creating the 'cric insights'. Then we also have a dedicated data science team which also helps us create these insights. We also take inspiration from IPL and other leagues and how they are helping the cricketers raise their games.

MK: How easy is the application to use and how many people does it involve?

AD: The biggest reason behind the popularity of CricHeroes is the ease of use of the platform. We weren't the first application of this kind but the ones which existed weren't user-friendly. Plus they were not big on recognition and networking which CricHeroes brought into the picture. Our aim target has been that anyone can start using the application within 5 minutes and the application doesn't crash at the time of peak load. That is what we have constantly tried to ensure.

MK: You hosted the CricHeroes Awards earlier this year. What was the reason behind it? What were the criteria on which the winners were selected?

AD: CricHeroes Awards was one of our major endeavors to recognise the grassroots cricketers at the national level. It also puts a lot of burden on us to make it as transparent and authentic as possible. We took only 2021 data and cleaned up the data for fake matches. Sometimes people use CricHeroes as a gaming application and score false runs. We have proper checks and balances to weed out such data. We manually check the data manually as well to ensure the scores in the system are authentic. We figured out the top performers and we individually contacted the players, their peers, and the organisers to check whether our understanding of this data is correct or not. We also checked on ground dimensions and removed those matches where the grounds - where the match was played - didn't meet the set criteria. Apart from the data which we already had, we tried to make it as authentic as possible.

MK: What has been the message/feedback from the domestic cricket associations and international associations?

AD: The feedback has been very good and it was the authenticity of our platform which helped us tie up with so many associations. One association referred us to the other and so on and so forth. Our website carries the testimonials from the associations which anyone can go through. Several players, coaches, and parents have thanked CricHeroes for helping them get recognition in the domestic circuit and for the insights they've received. With CricHeroes they don't need to maintain a record of their scoresheets because everything is now available digitally and globally.

MK: Can a study of CricHeroes also help one gauge the popularity of the sport in various regions of the world?

AD: Of course. In fact, we came to know through CricHeroes that the game is popular in Latin American nations like Argentina where football is like a religion. We have at least 10 countries in South America where several cricket matches are happening on a regular basis.

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Story first published: Monday, June 20, 2022, 19:50 [IST]
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