The charitable side of... English cricket

Nathalie Thomas

Scoring a 'golden duck' can be the beginning of a wonderful career in charity.

Getting dismissed first ball is every batsman's nightmare. But the cricketing community has a solution that turns one man's shame into another's fortune. Batsmen who are unlucky enough to get a 'golden duck', as the scenario is called, are able to join the Primary Club - an unusual grant-making charity set up to help the blind and partially sighted.

Members range from former England spin bowler Derek Underwood to cricketers who turn out once a year for their local pub XIs. The organisation's £160,000 annual income comes almost entirely from fines of members.

One such fine involves members coughing up £2 every time an England batsman gets a duck - which, in the case of last year's Ashes, saw members having to add an extra £8 to their annual subscriptions, thanks to Steve Harmison (on two occasions), Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell. "It's a way of getting good news out of bad," says honorary treasurer Ross Midgley.

After celebrating its golden jubilee last year, the club has launched a new initiative to boost its coffers. The club has, in its own words, realised that "there must be life before 50" and has set up a junior wing.

The Primary Club Juniors was launched last week by its president, England cricketer Andrew Strauss, who took on some of the charity's beneficiaries from Linden Lodge School in Wandsworth while blindfolded.

Strauss said he hoped the new arm of the club would "get lots of young people joining and increase the club's revenue".

He added: "We saw a vacancy in our membership and would very much like to get young people involved."

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