Batley XI face off against Vatican XI
Mount Cricket Team building faith relations around the world
All roads led to Rome for an amateur cricket club from West Yorkshire earlier this month as faith relations were strengthened through a unique match with the Vatican.
Batley’s Mount Cricket team swapped their local field for the Italian capital on 14th October after being invited to compete in a T20 game, for the Sir John Mayor’s Friendship Cup, with the Vatican’s cricket team - St Peter’s XI.
The local squad, made up of all Muslim players, faced off against the Roman Catholic side in the first such game organised to promote interfaith relations through the medium of cricket.
In total, a party of 33 travelled from Batley’s Madina Masjid for the inaugural event, including the team of 11 players, key members of the Club’s Executive Committee and supporters.
Lasting four days, the group were treated to a personal tour of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, whilst nine members of the party attended Sunday mass led by his Holiness, Pope Francis.
Fiaz Rashid, one of those who attended mass, said of the event: “The congregation prayers had such vibrancy that you felt connected with all around you.
“It was one of the most moving experiences I had encountered.”
Prior to the match with St Peter’s XI the visitors played a warm up game with the Roma Capannella Cricket Club, eventually clinching a six-wicket victory.
However, the matchup the following day with St Peter’s XI proved to be a more challenging encounter with the home team edging out their opponents in the final over of the game.
Aimed at promoting relationships between the two faith groups, the occasion was organised to build bridges and friendship and for those involved, it excelled expectations.
Hanif Mayet, Chair of Mount Cricket Club, summed up the whole experience saying: “The four days in Rome will be etched into our memory and hearts as an unforgettable experience. Thank you Vatican.”
Pratheesh Thomas, a member of the Vatican team and a Seminarian, added: “Today we have realised one of our dreams, to play against a team composed of Muslim friends.”
Following the match, the two teams and members of the executive committee dined together to celebrate the event, with a rematch for the Friendship Cup already being touted to be played here in the UK.
Also attending the event was Nigel Baker, British Ambassador to the Holy See; John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mark Arthur, Chief Executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and representatives from the English & Wales Cricket Board.