Today's Paper

View `animated' 3-D cricket on the Web

Cricinfo's website simulates the live action.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Special Arrangement

Anand Parthasarathy

Cricinfo beefs up its commentary with ball-by-ball action

BANGALORE: If you are a cricket fan, viewing the live television coverage of matches featuring your favourite teams, is of course the best way. But what's the next best course of action particularly if you are a hardcore follower of the game and stay in a country where there is no local match feed on TV? You probably tuned in to the cricket commentary on radio or at the website of Cricinfo, the India-based, Internet resource owned by the London-based Wisden group.

In recent days, the web resource has been beefed up to take the experience extremely close to what one would get in a TV feed, without actually having live video: an almost live simulation of the action on the playing field which recreates players and officials on the ground using 3-dimensional figures doing exactly what the real participants are doing except that there is a small time lag of about 30-60 seconds.

How does Cricinfo do it? The ball-by-ball commentary of its reporters in the field is converted by the special animation software to the appropriate motions of the 3-D simulated players. You can't tell individual features but there is no ambiguity, because a scrolling box alongside the visual panel has text which says exactly who did what, while scores and other statistics are also displayed below. The software which is in beta or trial stage can be downloaded to one's one laptop or desktop PC and as long as one has a stable Internet connection (and a free Flash player installed) the programme kicks in immediately. During Saturday's One-Day match against Sri Lanka, in Visakhapatnam, it was possible to have the Cricinfo 3-D animated feed playing on a laptop alongside a television set showing the live coverage to appreciate the difference. The Internet simulation was quite accurate in reproducing the movement of bat, ball and players on the field, but understandably the action was a typical two balls behind the live action.

The Web way offered one big plus: one could select the viewing position from the angle of batsman, bowler or fielder and even zoom in for close viewing at any time ... some thing that is currently possible only with some select services on the Direct To Home satellite TV channels as a paid value addition. One can also generate scorecards, pitch maps, partnership statistics or `wagon wheel' pictures showing where the hits went ... all from data streaming in real time.

The next opportunity to sample the Cricinfo 3-D animated commentary is the World Cup which takes place in the Caribbean from March 13 to April 28.

Cricinfo plans to offer the service for all future international cricket tourneys, even while it is finetuning the offering based on user feedback.

The software can be found at >http://www.cricinfo.com/3d/ and is freely downloadable.