As children of the late 80’s and early 90’s, at 51allout we are very fond of school ground turf wars. Our adolescence was dominated, and to an important degree shaped, by the endlessly volatile Nintendo vs. Sega rivalry. As diehard Nintendo fanboys, Sega’s provocative campaign slogans set out our teeth on edge, allusions to Mario as being fat and over the hill were met with threats of physical violence and all releases that featured the brand of our favourite video game manufacturer were slavishly bought and then defended in the face of any and all naysayers. Indeed, it is rumoured that one member of the 51allout stable still has a Virtual Boy in the attic, which he occasionally visits in the dead of night to whisper sweet nothings to.
The cricketing universe has been bereft of such media fueled turf wars, until now that is. The overwhelming self-inflicted wound, more akin to a bazooka to the brain than a bullet to the foot, that was the recent Cricinfo redesign has led us to explore pastures further afield. This has brought us to the hitherto unknown (to us) website of Cricbuzz. Unbeknownst to us, Cricbuzz has been around since 2004, but such has been Cricinfo’s dominance of the field that in our desperation to escape auto-playing videos, constant screen refreshing and Firdose Moonda, we have only recently stumbled upon it.
The problems with the current Cricinfo site redesign are readily apparent to anyone who visits it. Perhaps it functions better on mobile devices, but since we are still predominately surfing the net (do kids still say that?) on PC, the whole thing simply strikes us as an abominable clusterfuck of monumental proportions. Everything is too difficult to read, the ball-by-ball has been truncated to the past three or so overs, most of the screen real estate is taken up by links to articles we will never read (because of the aforementioned auto-playing videos) and the whole thing has just become a hassle to use. Cricbuzz, by comparison, is much easier on the eyes. Gone is most of the bullshit cluttering up the margins, the ball-by-ball is given centre stage, and you can easily quickly catch up on the previous five overs or so in case you missed anything. It doesn’t do anything particularly special, but compared to the mess that is Cricinfo, that is almost a godsend.
That’s not to say that Cricbuzz is perfect, however. We miss the real-time updates on player’s career averages that you get on Cricinfo, which can be especially helpful when you want to marvel, once more, at Stephen Peter Devereux Smith’s otherworldly Test batting average. We also don’t like how they use bold text whenever there is a bowling change. Bold text to us means a wicket and its appearance has caused innumerable brief panic attacks over the course of the past few weeks.
There is also much to be said of about the quality of editing on the articles on the site. A recent article opened with this expertly proof-read sentence: “Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said on Tuesday (August 29) called for patience as he feels the fortune of the game can turn due to the unpredictability of the wicket”. Sure, the writers likely hail from the subcontinent, and thus English is not their first language, but if Cricbuzz is serious about toppling the behemoth that is Cricinfo (and it should be because Cricinfo deserves toppling), then it must make sure that it dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. Poor grammar is only really excusable on websites with no ambition whatsoever. Like ours.
Probably the biggest thing Cricinfo still has going for it is Statsguru, which even with the site redesign remains the most comprehensive stats engine on the World Wide Web (kids do still call it that, we’re sure of it). Cricbuzz lacks any sort of similar feature, which probably makes sense. Statsguru is, by now, so firmly entrenched as the go-to stat engine, that it would be a waste of resources trying to compete.
Instead Cricbuzz should concentrate on doing what it is now. We can’t be the only ones who have gravitated over to it in recent weeks, and it would be a shame if the site attempted to capitalise on Cricinfo’s stumble by introducing its own slew of click bait bullshit. Just keep the ball-by-ball clear and concise, and maybe add a few new features, such as real time averages etc. Sure, that doesn’t sound particularly adventurous, but Cricbuzz doesn’t need to be in our opinion. If Cricinfo continues to shed followers quicker than a Rolf Harris tribute act then all Cricbuzz needs to do is concentrate on being the safe, reliable alternative and its future looks golden.