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Anglicans get ready to square up to Vatican side in Rome cricket match

06 October 2017

Paul Handley

United, despite the result: the last time the teams met in Rome

United, despite the result: the last time the teams met in Rome

ANGLICANS and Roman Catholics are preparing for another test of their ecumenical spirit, this time in Rome.

On 18 October, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI will fly out to Rome, accompanied by a small support staff, including the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, and the editor of the Church Times. They take on the Vatican side, the St Peter’s XI, on Saturday 21 October.

This will be the fifth match between the two sides in four years. The first encounter, in Canterbury in 2014, was conceived by John McCarthy, the then Australian ambassador to the Holy See, and organised with the help of the Church Times (News, 26 September 2014). Imagining a team of inexperienced Italians, the Anglicans were met with a keen and experienced side made up largely of seminarians from the Indian subcontinent.

In that first match, the Archbishop’s side won with just five balls to spare. The 2015 rematch, however, which took place in Rome, turned out to be an easy victory for the Vatican side (News, 30 October 2015).

In 2016, back on home turf, the Anglicans were victors once again: first, in Canterbury, then, two days later, in a three-way contest with a Muslim side at Edgbaston (News, 16 September 2016).

Although leading 3-1 in what has turned into an unofficial test series, the Anglicans are far from complacent. They know that their last match against the Vatican turned on a freak run-out and some uncharacteristic batting, and that their last visit to the Capannelle ground in Rome drew from them their worst performance.

One spin-off of the ecumenical contest has been a series of summer matches against other, secular sides. The season began with two defeats at the King’s School, Worcester. Next, the Anglicans won in the last over against Faire is the XI, an invitation side raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

There was then a high-scoring game against the Authors’ XI. The Authors made 219 for 8 in a 40-over game; the Archbishop’s XI overtook their score with nine or ten balls to spare, thus winning by five wickets.

Finally, in two T20s against a Worcester CC side, the Anglicans won one match, and lost the other.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI have received generous funding from the Archbishop, Ecclesiastical, and the Church Times.


The Archbishop of Canterbury’s squad for Rome:

Pat Allerton, Vicar, St Peter’s, Notting Hill: middle-order batsman, seam bowler; 38.
Jez Barnes, Vicar, St Stephen’s, East Twickenham: top-order batsman, spin bowler; 47.
Dan Christian, Associate Vicar, All Saints’, Ecclesall: off-spin bowler; 32.
Andy Cranston, Chaplain, Oswestry School: middle-order batsman, seam bowler; 38.
Rob Glenny, Rector, Radley, Sunningwell and Kennington: fast bowler; 27.
Chris Kennedy (vice-captain), Assistant Curate, St Richard’s, Hanworth: top-order batsman, seam bowler; 35.
Chris Lee, Priest-in-Charge, St Saviour’s, Wendell Park: middle-order batsman, swing bowler; 34.
Chris Lion (captain), Assistant Curate, St James’s, Gerrards Cross and Fulmer: top-order batsman; 33.
Ali Marshall, Ordinand (St Mellitus College), placed at St Peter’s, Brighton: seam bowler; 37.
Tom Murray, Ordinand (Trinity College, Bristol), placed at Emmanuel City Centre Church, Bristol: top-order batsman, wicket-keeper; 30.
Sam Rylands, Ordinand (Trinity College, Bristol), placed at Bristol Cathedral: top-order batsman, seam bowler; 27.
Andy Watkins, Assistant Curate, St Stephen’s, East Twickenham: middle-order batsman, seam bowler; 34.

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