The cricket extravaganza is upon us. Team India are the defending champions, but not really in the best of form at the moment. South Africa will try once more to shed the tag of chokers. Pakistan remain a team of glorious uncertainties. England will want to better their performance at the World Cup. West Indies have perhaps dimmed their own chances by not picking the strongest team. Australia and New Zealand have the crucial home condition advantage.
The ICC (International Cricket Council) Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be held Down Under from 14 February-29 March, will be an absorbing, entertaining affair. As you go about your daily routine of work, travel, school or college, some of these apps and services can help you keep track of the action—live.
Scenario: Hard at work on documents, spreadsheets or the nitty-gritty of the next project.
Espncricinfo is a must-follow app for a die-hard fan. The text commentary section has been revamped and the data is available easily in graphs. Even if you are catching the action on TV, Espncricinfo can provide a rather entertaining and informative second-screen experience. The updated app adds the refresh-interval setting—users can set anywhere from 30-120 seconds as the time gap before the app will refresh. Users can also turn on score alerts for teams. The Lean Back feature is just the thing you need at work—the dark background with easy-to-read text in white shows the latest team score, batsman and bowler statistics. Dock your phone or tablet on your workstation and keep an eye on the match scores without letting work suffer.
Cricbuzz offers news, scores and photo galleries of the on-field action, via apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian phones, and as an extension for the Google Chrome Web browser on Windows PCs, Macs and Google Chromebooks.
If your office allows video-streaming, then a subscription to this StarSports.com service (Web+app) is a must. It costs Rs.120 (for the entire tournament) and allows users to watch the live stream on the PC (www.starsports.com), or via the Android and iOS apps. The quality of video is good, and the bandwidth is managed (it uses a maximum of 2 Mbps) according to the speed of the broadband or 3G connection. Star Sports has the TV and online broadcast rights for all World Cup matches.
Social world cup
The ICC has Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/icc and www.facebook.com/cricketworldcup) and a Twitter account (@cricketworldcup), and will be posting match updates, news, video feeds and articles by guest writers.
The cricket boards of most participating nations are very active on social media platforms, particularly Twitter—Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA), England Cricket (@ECB_cricket), Cricket Australia (@CAComms) and Sri Lanka Cricket (@OfficialSLC). Expect a live stream of updates from each of these handles, particularly when their national teams are playing.
The Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI) has tied up with Twitter, where the user just has to follow the @BCCI account and give a missed call on 011-30081008 to receive the score updates via SMS.
Google has announced regular Hangout chat sessions, where cricketing greats will answer queries and discuss the results.
Calendar on your phone
Keeping tabs on when your team is playing could be tough. This neat calendar sync service from StarSports.com (on.starsports.com/cricket-world-cup) syncs with the Google, Apple and Outlook calendars. It’s the easiest way of getting the fixture list on your Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and iPhone. Integration with Google Now cards will make the experience even more seamless on Android and iPhones.
Scenario: A day off, or catching up on the action before leaving for work.
TV on mobile
If you don’t have access to the television remote, the next best thing is to watch TV on your mobile/tablet (Android and iOS) or PC (Windows or Mac). Tata Sky Everywhere TV subscribers can access 75 channels on the app, including four Star Sports channels, at Rs.60 a month. Other DTH (direct-to-home) operators, Airtel Digital TV, DishTV and Videocon d2h, also have similar TV-on-mobile apps, but currently don’t offer the Star Sports channels as a part of the offering.
This is a multi-platform app meant for people who read a lot. During the World Cup, you will be able to access interesting articles across websites. If you are busy, Pocket lets you save these links so you can read the articles later. It is a free-to-download-and-use, cross-platform product—available as an app for Android, iOS and Mac, and as a Chrome browser extension for Windows PCs and Chromebooks.
On the move
Scenario: Travelling to and from office, or for meetings.
The ICC’s official app (CWC 2015) for smartphones is a better bet than Espncricinfo to catch up on scores while travelling. The interface is easier to use and provides just the right amount of match information. You don’t want to be scrolling between multiple screens and get stumped with way too much information. There is also a Fantasy League, a team competition where you can select your team. You will accumulate points based on the performance of the selected players and will get a chance to make substitutions as the tournament progresses. Winners, based on the highest scores, will win gifts such as a bat autographed by all World Cup team captains. Free for Android and iOS.
The 92.7 Big FM network, the official radio partner for the World Cup, has come up with a special interactive programme called ‘Cricket Ka Big Headquarter’, which will feature cricketer Virender Sehwag and commentator Harsha Bhogle. Match news and scores will be updated regularly, with matches being broadcast in all the 45 cities that Big FM is present in.
Channels that matter
The Star Sports network (part of the Star TV product line-up in India, owned by 20th Century Fox) has the television broadcast rights for World Cup matches. The broadcaster will offer the match commentary in six languages, using multiple channels in the line-up—Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 4 (English), Star Sports 3 (Hindi), Star Vijay (Tamil), Jalsha Movies (Bengali), Asianet Movies (Malayalam) and Suvarna Plus (Kannada). Matches will also be shown in high definition (HD) on Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports HD3 and Star Sports HD4.
Cable operators have different channel packages and rates across cities, so you should double-check to see if these channels are part of your subscription package. Direct-to-home (DTH) operators (DishTV, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Videocon d2h, Reliance Digital TV and Sun Direct) have fairly complicated but uniformly priced packages, and it isn’t always easy to find the best pre-defined base pack and add-on combo at the lowest possible price.
All DTH operators offer the four Star Sports SD channels. Our pick would be Videocon d2h (New Gold Sports Pack @Rs.310 per month), closely followed by DishTV (All Sports Pack @Rs.320 per month).
In this case, it is a straight fight between DishTV and Tata Sky since these are the only two DTH operators offering all four Star Sports HD channels. Tata Sky’s package will cost Rs.440 a month (Dhamaal Mix Pack—Rs.230+ Sports 1 add-on pack—Rs.85 + HD Access fee—Rs.125). Dish TV’s Maxi Sports + Maxi Sports Life—On HD pack costs Rs.470 a month.