The UK will soon have its first “fully-dedicated fantasy cricket platform” with the launch of StarPick, which achieved “phenomenal success” in India earlier this year.
Based in Bangalore, StarPick was only founded earlier this year, but it attracted 650,000 users in the 90-day period after its launch. It has now announced its entry into the UK market with a three-year sponsorship of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. The company will now offer UK users the chance to pick a fantasy cricket team and play Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), using its Swedish-built platform.
What is Daily Fantasy Sports?
Simply put, DFS is a contest among sports fans with the organizer – StarPick in this case – making its money from the difference between total entry fees and total prize money paid out. Contestants select a team, working within certain constraints, such as a salary cap, laid down by the organizers. The players chosen then score points based on their performance in a known game and the competitor with the highest points is the winner.
DFS and cricket
There have been plenty of previous fantasy cricket games in the UK. The problem was, they lasted a season and, as with other fantasy sports such as soccer or baseball, far too many players lost interest. If you are, say, 45,612 out of 100,000 competitors with half the season gone, you may be doing better than average but you are not going to win any prizes, and your interest inevitably starts to wane.
DFS solved that problem by condensing the “season” into a day or a weekend, meaning that contestants are always involved in the action. Add the convenience of selecting a fantasy team and monitoring its performance via your mobile, as opposed to laboriously completing a coupon in a newspaper and sending it off, and the wide appeal of DFS is clear to see.
As mentioned above, players will be awarded points based on their performance. Cricket is an ideal vehicle for that because individual performance can easily be measured within a team game, whether through runs scored, wickets and/or catches taken, or stumpings by wicketkeepers, with bonus points probably awarded for a man-of-the-match performance.
Rohit Nair, StarPick co-founder, said: “Our fantasy cricket platform has been well received by cricket fans in India and we’re confident that we can replicate the success in the UK by giving cricket fans the chance to build their own fantasy teams and engage with like-minded supporters.”
Are UK players ready for DFS?
DFS is a contest – you can win and lose money. So, in that way it is gambling but, in many ways, it is a very different form of gambling. It certainly takes longer to pick a fantasy cricket team with 11 players than it does to pick four or five football teams for your “acca.” I suspect that the profile of the DFS players will be very different from the “lads” targeted by traditional gambling ads in the UK. And you’d be inclined to sound another word of caution. Cricket is nowhere near as popular in the UK as it is in India: Joe Root is not the demi-god in England that Virat Kohli is on the sub-continent.
StarPick will need to get that right, otherwise they’ll have as much chance of success as rabbits on a Bunsen. (For those of you born outside Yorkshire, that means a very poor batsman on a wicket that is conducive to spin bowling. A Bunsen is a turner, from the rhyming slang, “Bunsen burner.”)