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Muslims come to the crease

15 April 2016

Paul Handley

Close: the Anglican and Vatican teams after their last encounter in Rome in October 2015

Close: the Anglican and Vatican teams after their last encounter in Rome in October 2015

TWO years ago, a cricket match brought together two branches of the Christian faith, Anglicans and Roman Catholics. This September, the two teams are to be joined by a third, made up of Muslim players.

In September 2014, a visiting side from the Vatican played the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI at the Kent County Cricket Club home ground in Canterbury. The match ended with a narrow victory for the Anglicans. The two teams met again in Rome last year, and this time the Vatican XI ran out winners.

On Tuesday 13 September, the teams will meet for the third time, again at the Canterbury ground.

In a new development, the two teams will then travel to Birmingham, where they will be joined by a team of Muslim players from Mount Cricket Club in Batley, West Yorkshire, for a triangular tournament on Thursday 15 September. The matches will be played at Edgbaston, the international ground and home of Warwickshire CCC. Entry to the tournament will be free of charge.

 

The following day, the Vatican side will travel to Yorkshire, ending its tour with a match against Mount CC at Headingley. All three grounds have offered their facilities at no cost to the teams.

Mount was invited to the tournament after it arranged a visit to Rome last autumn to play the Vatican side (suffering the same fate as the Anglicans). The club was founded in 1976, and has an extensive outreach programme seeking to interest young people in the sport.

The teams have listed the following reasons for the matches:

1. To celebrate a joyful belief in the one God that unites our faiths.

2. To illustrate that we can be true to our own faith and at the same time cherish diversity.

3. To prove that a love of cricket can unite and empower people regardless of nationality or faith.

4. To model that we can be in competing teams yet still love and respect each other.

5. To be ambassadors for our respective religions and rectify misunderstanding.

6. To remember that faith is not exercised just in our minds, or at set times and places: we worship God with our whole bodies and at all times.

7. To continue to build on the fellowship and the generosity of spirit we experience on and off the field, and extend this to the wider community.

The touring Vatican side is made up of priests and seminarians who are currently studying in Rome, mostly from south Asia. They belong to St Peter’s Cricket Club, established in the Vatican in 2013, an initiative of the former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See John McCarthy.

As before, the Anglican team is being recruited through the Church Times. See last week’s story for details of trials at the end of this month. The patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Additional support is being given by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

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