New Longton Cricket Club was the venue recently for the third annual cricket match between a team representing The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) and a team from Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM).  

Players came together from across Lancashire including New Longton, Ellel, Burnley, Accrington, Padiham, Leyland, Thornton, Blackburn and Preston with contributions from further afield as well, specifically Skelmersdale, Carlisle and Durham.  

The Diocese team consisted of both clergy and laity, while teachers, clerics and members of mosques made up the LCM side. The mosques team also featured the current Leader of Burnley Council, Councillor Afrasiab Anwar. 

Winners on the night were the Diocese by just two runs in a very close-fought match … the first time in the three years of the fixture the church team has come out on top!  

But the result (always important!) was just part of the purpose of the match which, in the words of the Bishop of Burnley Rt Rev. Philip North, was also about demonstrating the importance of ‘love, friendship and mutual support’ between faiths.  

Bishop Philip is President of ‘Building Bridges in Burnley’ and was invited to umpire some of the match. He said: “Since its inception it’s been fantastic to see this encounter grow to become a regular fixture in the County’s cricketing calendar. 

“I was delighted to be able to attend this year and even more pleased to be invited to take a turn as umpire! 

“The love, friendship and mutual support embodied in the match tangibly shows us that, whatever our background and faith, we can work together to achieve great things … while enjoying each others’ company at the same time. 

“That’s a message that is so important to get across just now; particularly after the very difficult year we have all experienced.” 

Captain of the LCM side, Abdul Alim, commented: “This fixture always ensures a few pleasant surprises, maybe this year complacency had set in which we will hope to address next time! Whilst the result may have gone against us this year, the camaraderie and friendships have continued to blossom, which is far more important.” 

Abdul’s teammate, Councillor Afrasiab Anwar who is Chair of the ‘Building Bridges’ group said: “Sport is and always has been a great way to bring communities together. I’m delighted I was given the opportunity to take part in this annual fixture. The result is not important … what matters is the mutual respect, conversations and lasting friendships. My bowling figures were the icing on the cake!” 

Meanwhile Diocesan Captain, Tom Woolford, added: “This is such a great fixture and I’m thrilled we’ve finally got one over our friends and rivals at the Council of Mosques. I wouldn’t want them to get bored of thrashing us!  

“I hope the profile of this match increases in the years ahead as people in Lancashire hear about the fun and friendship we are able to share around our mutual love of cricket, banter and food.” 

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