Kiwi made cricket app goes global

A technology firm based in New Zealand’s capital city is bringing cricket into the digital era.

New Zealand cricket technology firm CricHQ is enhancing the game of cricket around the world with its very smart cricket scoring app.

The app captures the stats of the game and allows coaches, up-and-coming players and professionals to hone their strategies and improve their game.

“This information used to be only available to top cricketers - we have made it available to all,” says Stephen Fleming, former Black Caps captain and director of CricHQ.

The founder and chief executive, Simon Baker, says CricHQ is unique in that it’s the only digital platform catering to amateur level cricket, as well as the professionals.

Wellington base

Based in Wellington, CricHQ has the world’s biggest collection of cricket data, giving it a clear advantage when it comes to analysing the sport.

“People are very interested in unique content. Understanding stats for up-and-coming players gives cricket clubs a leading-edge,” Baker says.

The company has also developed a cloud-based administration tool that’s used by cricket organisations around the world. Now they use touch screens instead of paper.

“Our platform allows the crowd sourcing of all of this data, and the crowd moderation of it, so that’s why we can grow on the scale we have,” says Baker.

CricHQ regularly attracts over one million users at any one time, and traffic to the platform tripled in the year to January 2015.

Hatched on the oval

It could be said the idea for CricHQ was hatched on the oval. Baker is a keen cricket player, and he could see how difficult parents and coaches found the paper-based cricket scoring system. And with a background in IT, he knew how to fix it.

“It’s a very statistics-led game, you can look at professional players profiles and get a lot of information on their game but there wasn’t any information on players coming up through the ranks. CricHQ recognised this gap and filled it,” Baker says.

CricHQ is now used by more than 500 cricket clubs and a third of governing bodies around the world, and has 70 employees in six countries, including India.

Baker is in talks with cornerstone investors to help fund CricHQ’s push to capture the younger fans who are online, such as those in India who are among the 140 million people connected to Facebook in that country.

International cricket backing

CricHQ already has the backing of nearly 30 past and present international cricket players who have invested in the company, including New Zealand’s current Black Caps captain Brendan McCullum and former captain Stephen Fleming.

Fleming joined the company as a director in its early days and says he could see the benefit of such technology, at a time when scoring cricket was like tackling Morse code.

“In that short space of time we’ve created a cricket community that’s now accustomed to touch screens and the modern age so we’ve really brought cricket scoring up to where it should be,” says Fleming, who has taken an active role in building the business.

And he says being a New Zealander has certainly helped spark interest in CricHQ overseas, especially on the cricket scene where New Zealand players are highly regarded.

“It has become a product that has been built and is owned by players from international level down,” Fleming says of CricHQ’s appeal.

And he’s excited about the company’s growth prospects.

“It really has got the opportunity to grab global cricket. The amateur market has been somewhat untouched,” Fleming says.

Baker estimates CricHQ has tapped into just 10 percent of its potential market.

Ideal testing ground

And he’s enthusiastic about keeping New Zealand as CricHQ’s home. Baker’s been a member of Wellington’s Karori Cricket Club or 25 years, and says it’s a good place to test new ideas.

Some players at the club have recently started wearing mini cameras on their helmets, in a trial to live-stream amateur matches on CricHQ.

“New Zealand is the ideal testing ground, we get immediate feedback, and being a small country we can be agile and responsive. We started CricHQ from the grassroots and we’re going global,” Baker says.