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ESPNcricinfo at 30

Thirty years of ESPNcricinfo

A timeline of the site's evolution from a scores newsgroup to the home of cricket online

Rahul Dravid's interaction with fans being beamed live out of ESPNcricinfo's Bangalore office in 2013  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Rahul Dravid's interaction with fans being beamed live out of ESPNcricinfo's Bangalore office in 2013  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

1992

January 2
A group of expat cricket enthusiasts based in US universities sets up rec.sport.cricket, a moderated newsgroup, to enable online access of scores, and results. The group, led by, among others, Professor KS Rao, sees a surge in membership before and during the World Cup in Australia.

1993

January
The BBC's commentary for England's tours of India and Sri Lanka is "narrowcast" from England to the USA. Using software that, once connected to a radio/Walkman, allows for real-time transmission of audio over the internet, volunteers transcribe score updates of the England vs India Test matches onto the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel #cricket.
March 15
Simon King, who goes on to be the main force in shaping the site, launches a bot named Cricinfo on the IRC channel #cricket, where visitors can access a score update on request.
Within a couple of months of the launch, Cricinfo moves onto Gopher, a precursor of the early web browsers. The Cricinfo database is available on the World Wide Web, having moved from King's computer to Prof Rao's at the University of North Dakota, and then to a server at the Oregon Graduate Institute provided by Etienne Barnard, a research professor. A gopher client allows visitors to access scorecards and reports compiled by contributors.

1994

Cricinfo offers the ICC a free hosting service. Cricket boards around the world, realising the potential, seek tie-ups for hosting their respective websites on Cricinfo.
September-October
Cricinfo provides live match coverage of Australia's tour to Pakistan, including of the thrilling first Test where Pakistan sneak to a one-wicket win in Karachi.

1995

Cricinfo's archive of Test-match scorecards is completed, thanks to Travis Basevi and Vishal Misra, two cricket fans and programmers based in Sydney and Massachusetts respectively.
Cricinfo becomes a "website" - cricinfo.org - with a homepage, a logo, and a basic interface. By the end of the year it will have recorded 3.5 million page views, reaching 80 different countries across 16 time zones.
An early mobile edition is launched, keeping Cricinfo a step or two ahead of the times.

1996

February-March
Cricinfo's live ball-by-ball reports for the 1996 World Cup is the first such coverage on the internet of a major cricket tournament staged simultaneously in more than one country.
June
Cricinfo becomes cricinfo.com (and a company, Cricinfo Ltd). The site hosts its first online interview, with Mohammad Azharuddin, and provides live coverage of matches played in Sharjah.
December
Cricinfo agrees to host Zimbabwe Cricket's website in an effort to boost cricket in that country.

1997

January
Cricinfo inks its first major revenue deal, worth £15,000, with Cable and Wireless of the UK. Later in the year, Titan Watches becomes the first Indian brand to advertise on the site, followed by Kingfisher and Intel.
Cricinfo sends King and Basevi to the ICC Mini World Cup in Malaysia to handle ball-by-ball coverage. They organise scorers, computers and phone lines almost overnight to ensure that the tournament is covered properly.
King gets a call from the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, asking for live coverage of an ODI tournament featuring England in Sharjah. Cricinfo ties up with Jagger's company Jagged Internetworks and broadcasts that tournament and a few others. The coverage is live-audio commentary, accompanied by a slideshow of images from the matches (one frame every five seconds).

1999

Cricinfo sets up its India office and gets an investor in Pangolin (which goes on to be better known as Sportal during the dotcom boom years at the turn of the century).
While Cricinfo is not an official partner of the World Cup in England, the site, for the first time, features extensive advertising sales.

2000

February
Cricinfo gives the Zimbabwe cricket board £80,000, doubling the country's annual cricket-development budget.
June
Satyam Infoway, India's first software firm listed on NASDAQ, acquires a 25% stake in Cricinfo for US$37 million - placing the valuation of the site at $150 million.
November
Cricinfo sponsors the Women's World Cup. Matches are streamed live, creating tremendous interest in the event.
Statsguru is launched. A dedicated database-query tool, it goes on to become one of the most popular features of the site, giving readers free access to all sorts of statistics related to players, teams, matches more.
Cricinfo launches an audio commentary service featuring the likes of Tony Cozier, Colin Croft and Neil Foster. Later in the year it also streams live audio coverage of matches played in the ICC Knock-out tournament in Kenya.
The site exceeds 100 million page views in a single month for the first time.

2001

Cricinfo sponsors the County Championship in the UK and, later that year, the women's Ashes series - branded the Cricinfo Series.

2003

Cricinfo is bought by the Wisden Group during the 2003 World Cup, with Sambit Bal taking over as editor. The website is redesigned.

2005

Cricinfo launches its India edition homepage, where content is presented in an order targeted at users in India and followers of Indian cricket, separate to the default Global edition. Over the next decade, the number of editions expands to 11. UK and Australia are added in 2007, Pakistan in 2010, South Africa and the US in 2012, and New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh over the next three years. Users from all over the world are able to choose which edition of the site they'd like to visit.
The site begins using Feedback, a new scoring platform with a richer data-capturing mechanism that enables graphic representations of the on-field action and more comprehensive ball-by-ball data.
Blogs are launched on the site, beginning with the Surfer, an aggregator linking out to the "best of the web".

2006

Cricinfo Mobile gets off the ground. The service includes Cricinfo Genie, which delivers live ball-by-ball simulations of games, and 3D, live three-dimensional animation.
A full-fledged audio service kicks off, featuring experts including Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Sanjay Manjrekar and Kumar Sangakkara to provide pre- and post-match previews and comments via streaming, downloads and podcasts.

2007

June
US sports major ESPN, part of the Walt Disney group of companies, buys Cricinfo from Wisden for an undisclosed sum. The website is renamed ESPNcricinfo.

2008

The ESPNcricinfo Awards, which honour the best performances in cricket for the preceding calendar year, are given out for the first time.
Page 2 - a humour and satire section - is launched, in time for the first year of the Indian Premier League, and so is Chatterbox, an interactive match-time chat between readers and the site's writers.

2009

June
The website's design and interface is comprehensively overhauled, with larger pictures, a clearly defined main engagement area on the homepage, and a modular presentation for homepage content.

2011

The World Cup breaks several traffic records for the site. ESPNcricinfo launches a special microsite for the tournament, and a section on travel. The site records 6.5 million unique users for the India-Pakistan semi-final. ESPNcricinfo's chronicle of the tournament, a book titled Sealed With A Six, is published to critical and commercial acclaim.

2012

ESPNcricinfo launches apps for the iPad and mobile. A book compiling content from the site on Rahul Dravid, recently retired at the time, is released.

2013

The site launches new ventures in social and interactive media. A fan-engagement section, The Stands, is launched; also, a social-media scorecard, Match Companion; and the Cordon, a blogs showcase. The third ESPNcricinfo book, Talking Cricket, a collection of interviews with current and former players, is published.
The iPhone app is relaunched - bringing the user experience much more in line with that on the web.
The first livestream show for the site, Match Point, later renamed Match Day, goes on air. It offers pre- and post-game analysis and commentary by in-studio experts, among them Rahul Dravid, Ian Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar, Martin Crowe and Daryll Cullinan.

2014

ESPNcricinfo's features offering expands with the introduction of The Cricket Monthly, a site and tablet app primarily for longform feature writing.

2015

The 2015 World Cup is the most successful tournament in the history of ESPNcricinfo, with an average of 5.8 million unique visitors per day. Throughout the tournament, ESPNcricinfo's digital properties total 4.2 billion minutes and 2.3 billion page views. March 26, the day of the Australia vs India semi-final, attracts 13 million unique visitors across ESPNcricinfo's digital properties.
Insights, a platform that provides users with the ability to access statistical cricket data in the form of charts and graphs, is launched.

2016

ESPN, whose long-standing partnership with Star India ended in 2012, returns to television screens across India after signing a deal with Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd. A multisport website, ESPN.in, is launched; its cricket vertical is powered by ESPNcricinfo.

2017

ESPNcricinfo undergoes another major redesign, this time with a mobile-first focus, which brings it in line with other ESPN properties around the world. The speed of access to live scores across platforms is enhanced, and the apps feature a range of personalisation choices.

2018

SmartStats
ESPNcricinfo launches SmartStats, a set of metrics that go beyond averages, strike rates and economy to add context to every batting and bowling performance. This context includes pitch conditions, quality of opposition, and match situation, which go towards assessing the pressure on the player during the performance.

2021

ESPNcricinfo expands its reach by launching its first non-English site, offering ball-by-ball commentary and news and features in Hindi.
ESPNcricinfo launches Ask Cricinfo, a stats-query tool with a natural language interface. Users type their questions in plain English - for instance: "What is Babar Azam's strike rate against Shaheen Afridi in the PSL?" - and the site answers.
The platform's short-format content offering is enhanced with the launch of Shorts, which presents byte-sized chunks of information in an Instagram Stories style, swipe-through interface.
The site's player-profile pages, a key resource covering over 90,000 cricketers, undergo a full revamp and reskinning, making them more user-friendly, accessible on mobile devices, and bringing them in line with ESPNcricinfo's homepages and story pages.

2022

A metaverse-based digital platform, Cricinfo Verse, is launched, which gives fans the opportunity to navigate and experience ESPNcricinfo's content and play interactive games while inhabiting virtual avatars.