The Googly Fund: Breathing new life into friendly cricket across the UK

More than 75 grants have been awarded to groups looking to stage social cricket fixtures.

Primary school parents across the UK are being urged to use social and friendly cricket as a valuable way of bringing together local communities – and they are being backed by grants of up to £300 from charitable trust The Googly Fund.

The Googly Fund was created after two of its trustees, Dan Forman and cricket author Rob Eastaway, met in the playground of their children’s primary school.

“At primary schools, very often it’s the mums who network,” says Rob. “The dads often don’t know each other. But we used friendly cricket in our corner of southeast London as a way of getting those dads together, with a team of dads from one primary school playing a friendly match against a team of dads from another primary school.

“Now it’s grown to six primary school teams playing each other in friendly, 30-over matches. At least 250 adults have played in those friendly fixtures since 2009. It’s also taking off in Bristol and we’re getting the first seeds in Yorkshire, too. So many of the players say: ‘I haven’t played since I was 15’. But our response is always: ‘That makes you perfectly qualified’.”

In 2019, with shorter forms of cricket surging in popularity, Rob was commissioned to update his 1992 book What Is A Googly? With an advance cheque looming, he was struck by inspiration – and quickly explained to Dan his idea of using that money to kickstart friendly cricket across the country.

Rob eventually decided to donate all the proceeds from his updated book and continues to do so today. As word spread, other benefactors also began to make gifts to The Googly Fund. The result is a healthy pot of money that is now making a real and measurable difference.

“Cricket has written my adult life,” says Rob. “It’s my social core. It’s a source of friendship, of camaraderie, and is so good for your mental health. It’s just an amazing way of bringing people together, and a cricket match does that in a way no other sporting contest does because of the time it takes, the eccentric variability of the players, and all the other factors we all know and love. The Googly Fund is all about fostering that sort of cricket.”

Since its formation in 2021, The Googly Fund has awarded 75 grants totalling £12,000. Each grant is awarded for a one-off cost, such as buying some balls, refurbishing a scoreboard, or hiring a pitch. Applications asking for a grant that will contribute to a larger project, such as building a new pavilion, are not considered. Rob adds: “We just want to give that seed of money that makes things possible and might be a catalyst for more cricket to follow.”

A Googly Fund charity game for their friendly team the Mandarins CC

Dan says: “We’re most interested in all those types of people who might play cricket if it were a form of friendly social cricket, whether that’s men’s, women’s, disability cricket, or community cricket between workforces, pubs, or school parents.”

He continues: “Run well, friendly cricket can accommodate a wide variety of standards in any given team.

“The pressure isn’t on performance. It’s much more about participation, involvement, and social interaction. And there’s something very special about bringing together different communities and enabling them to do something together that’s active, healthy and so, so rewarding.”

Having seen first-hand the impact of their work, the pair both believe strongly in the power of The Googly Fund grants – not just for the participants, but also for nearby cricket clubs as well.

“Local cricket clubs almost always have spare evenings or weekend days where their pitch isn’t been used,” says Rob. “And I don’t know a single club that isn’t looking for more players. Getting a primary school parents match going gives them introductions to potential adult and children players. It’s such a powerful thing for everyone involved.”

Visit to find out more about its financial support for friendly cricket and details on how to make a grant application.