Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

McCullum jets off with Key to open doors for cricket firm expansion in India

Former New Zealand cricket skipper Brendon McCullum is a shareholder in CricHQ. Photo Greg Bowker
Former New Zealand cricket skipper Brendon McCullum is a shareholder in CricHQ. Photo Greg Bowker

Having cricketing legends as shareholders has helped open doors for the Kiwi software developer CricHQ.

That's particularly true in cricket-made India, the key market for the Wellington-headquartered company and one that is rapidly growing with thousands of cricketing bodies and academies that are potential clients.

CricHQ executive chairman Mike Loftus said their business in India had increased by about 400 per cent in the past year in terms of clients.

"We are picking up new clients literally every few days over there. It is just such a massive market. The scale is just incredible."

CricHQ was founded in 2010 and has shareholders including former Black Caps captains Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum.

McCullum is flying out of Auckland Monday morning with Prime Minister John Key as part of a delegation to India that includes Loftus and about 35 others from the business and education sectors.

McCullum's presence could provide a hint of controversy after the release on Thursday of his autobiography, which covered his testimony against Chris Cairns in last December's perjury trial.

Cairn's was found not guilty of charges related to alleged match-fixing.

The prime objective of the trip for Key is to push along negotiations for a free trade agreement that have faltered since a hopeful start in April 2010.

When you take Stephen or Brendon into a meeting people are there to see Stephen and Brendon and we come secondary.
Mike Loftus

McCullum will provide star factor - but Loftus said getting deals across the line in India required a patient approach and meetings face-to-face.

"It is a market that takes a lot of time to cultivate. You need to be on the ground...it is fourth, fifth, sixth meeting before there is any action. It is very relationship-based, and that's just the way it works.

"What we found...particularly when you go up to India, is when you take Stephen or Brendon into a meeting people are there to see Stephen and Brendon and we come secondary.

CricHQ now has 113 staff - about 70 in India, 30 in New Zealand, and the rest in the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa and Canada.

It started as a cloud-based cricket scoring app, but has expanded into competition management, administration, scoreboard and statistics platform as well as data collection and predictive scoring.

Prime Minister John Key poised to catch Foreign Minister Murray in a game at the UN to promote the Cricket World Cup in 2015. Photo/ Audrey Young
Prime Minister John Key poised to catch Foreign Minister Murray in a game at the UN to promote the Cricket World Cup in 2015. Photo/ Audrey Young

Loftus said the data and analytical aspect was particularly appealing to Indians.

When an academy signs-on, every member can view their own statistics, displayed in match reports, wagon-wheels showing shot selection and other graphs.

More importantly, it allows selectors to sift through match data to find Tendulkar gold.

"You can not only see that [a player] scored 100, but you can also see where he scored his runs, what sort of bowling and all sorts of things. You can then start to make choices about, was it a decent 100 or was it all edged through slip, sort of thing," Loftus said.

"Because undoubtedly they've got Tendulkars and Sehwags and Kohlis playing in the provinces at the moment for whatever reason don't get identified...they are really keen to try and break the mold of what has traditionally been the pathway for Indian players."

"

Once the door is open often it is better not to have them...we can get our message across a little bit more than having someone who is starstruck.
."

CricHQ is also set to launch a function that livestreams matches, with players and coaches able to call up specified highlights packages from footage - for example, asking for one that includes all fours, sixes and wickets.

Loftus said there was only one other company offering similar services for cricketers, Interact Sports in Australia, but it only covered competition management and registrations.

CricHQ raised US$10 million from a Singaporean investment fund last year and is working at speed to sign-up associations around the world - although in India urgency had its natural limits.

"The big thing is that whole having patience...we have a saying within the team, TII - This Is India," Loftus said. "There are things that are very peculiar to Indian culture and society.

"You're not going to change that; you have to live with it."

FOLLOW HELEN CLARK'S LEAD
New Zealand could take a leaf out of Helen Clark's recent bid for the UN's top job in its quest to secure a free trade agreement with India, the general secretary of New Zealand's India Trade Alliance says.

Although Clark's bid to become the next UN Secretary General was unsuccessful, Sunil Kaushal said the fact much of her campaigning centred on face-to-face meetings pointed the way when dealing with Indians.

"She was there all the time, she was seen. Otherwise it is out of sight, out of mind.

"In India, only face-to-face policy works. Nothing works with email, nothing works with those things.

"New Zealand is used to instant things, and that is our biggest downfall. We want everything within six months or one year. And India doesn't work that way."

Prime Minister John Key leaves for a three-day visit to India today. Ahead of his last visit in 2011, Key said a free trade deal could have similar benefits to the China-NZ FTA for some industries.

New Zealand made India the subject of its first "NZ Inc" strategy in the same year, with the goal of shipping $2 billion of goods to India by 2015.

That hasn't been met, with goods trade at only $656 million. Negotiations for a FTA kicked off in April 2010 and have gone through 10 rounds without a result.

Key in May said he pushed "pretty hard" on the deal when he met India President Pranab Mukherjee in Auckland, and says the primary reason for this week's trip is to advance those talks.

INDIA-NEW ZEALAND IN NUMBERS
• 170,000 - Indian population in New Zealand. About 4 per cent of the population.
• Trade in services like education and tourism now exceeds the value of trade in goods.
• 46,000 Indian visitors to NZ in 2015, with 50,000 Kiwis going to India.
• 500 million - the number India's workforce is set to grow to in the next few years.
• 1/10th - the size of NZ's trade with India compared to with China.
&bull ; Wood, wool and fruit and nuts main NZ exports to India. Pharmaceuticals, pearls and precious stones and textiles main imports.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 25 Jan 2017 08:59:35 Processing Time: 643ms