When most people think of Vatican City, they think of the Pope, historic buildings and holy land.
Not many will have the West Yorkshire town of Batley on their minds, yet relations between the two areas are once again being strengthened this month through the means of cricket.
Last year, representatives from the Mount Cricket Club made the long trip across Europe to take on the Vatican St Peter’s XI in the Pope’s ‘back garden’ as part of an interfaith relations initiative.
The team, made up of all-Muslim players and representatives from Batley’s Madina Masjid, faced off against the Roman Catholic side during a four-day visit.
Now, just less than one month after that historic match-up, the two sides will face off again in Yorkshire as the St Peter’s side travel to England.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Headingley Stadium will host the iconic game on Monday 19th September, with Mount CC hoping to get one over their opponents following their defeat in Rome last year.
Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, part of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said the visit would be extremely beneficial for all parties.
He said: “I believe that sport has the ability to break down boundaries and bring communities together.
“Cricket, particularly with its rich and diverse history, is a great example of this.
“As a lifelong cricket fan and a member of the ECB, I am pleased that cricket has been the catalyst to bring these communities together.”
As well as their headlining game, the tour will see the Vatican representatives visit Batley’s Mount Pleasant Islamic Trust and St John Fisher Catholic Academy in Dewsbury.
A Twenty20 match between St Peter’s and a multi-faith community XI from Batley will also be held at the town’s PKWA centre.