Lancashire interfaith cricket match is a run away success

A long-planned interfaith cricket match refused to be bowled out by the coronavirus and was eventually played out in great success.

By Dominic Collis
Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 2:30 pm
Howzat? The two teams
Howzat? The two teams

A team from The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) and a team representing Lancashire Council of Mosques strode to the crease and the outfield at Ribblesdale Wanderers Cricket Club in Clitheroe. Their appearance together was praised by the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev. Philip North.

Clergy and laity from across the county (plus two team members from neighbouring Carlisle Diocese) were joined by Imams in a game which took place subject to English Cricket Board additional Covid-19 regulations.

Bishop Philip, who currently chairs the Diocese’s Coronavirus Task Group, said: "Howzat?! Against all the odds, this wonderful match - bringing Lancashire vicars and laity and the county's imams together on the cricket pitch - has been able to go ahead. With the pandemic throwing everything into disarray, even a short while ago it was impossible to imagine any kind of sport taking place.

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"Cancelling would have been so disappointing for all concerned but they weren't bowled out! Especially in these difficult times, events that show the love, friendship and support we can have for each other, whatever our background or faith, are more important than ever. I congratulate everyone for making it happen."

Hafiz Abdul Alim, General Secretary, Lancashire Council Of Mosques, and team captain for the Mosques side, said: “Both teams were determined to ensure a fixture would take place this year and Ribblesdale Wanderers chairman, Mark Graham, obliged with our request. Sport transcends all boundaries and, whilst there is fierce rivalry on the field of play, the mutual respect for our faiths is what makes this fixture so special.”

After the success of the first Mosques versus Churches fixture played at Stonyhurst College last summer, both teams were eager to reprise their sporting rivalry.

The Mosques’ side won the toss and batted first. Good, economic bowling and early wickets (including 2-10 for Bishop’s Chaplain Sam Cheesman) put the Diocese on top, when last year’s star batsman Irfan came to the crease.

He plundered a hatful of maximums down the ground for his 61 not out and leading the Mosque side to an imposing 171/4 from their allotted 15 overs.

Blackburn Diocese started brightly in pursuit, with a breezy opening partnership of 32 between Gary Bullock and Tom Woolford.

Woolford anchored the reply with 53 not out but stingy bowling from Mosques’ captain Abdul Alim put the result beyond doubt. The Diocese finished on 105/5, giving the Imams a 66-run victory.

After the Mosque side observed Salat al-maghrib (evening prayer), the sides reunited to enjoy supper (imams brought savoury rice, clergy brought cakes), drinks and (socially-distanced) chat together; talking eagerly about a fixture next summer in, hopefully, less restrictive circumstances.