Stonyhurst College played host last night to a cricket match between a team from The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) and a team representing Lancashire Council of Mosques.
The Diocese team lost by 50 runs, but the result was just one aspect of the encounter as it was also a chance to strengthen inter-faith relationships.
Lancashire Council of Mosques won the toss and batted first. Blackburn kept them contained for the first 15 overs, but then Irfan found his stride and accelerated to 89 not out, out of a team score of 145 for 3 off the 20 overs (Craig Abbott taking two of the wickets).
There was tea at half time; the Mosques team provided vegetable rice, the Diocesan team provided cakes and scones.
Blackburn Diocese were battling with the low sun and fading light for their innings. After losing star opening batsman Wills for just 1, the chase always looked beyond them.
A good partnership of over 50 runs between Woolford (24) and Tricarico (20) brought a measure of respectability to the final score (93 for 8), but it was a comfortable 52-run victory for the Mosques.
Captain of the Blackburn Diocese team, Rev Dr Tom Woolford, said: "As we've seen through the course of the Cricket World Cup these last several weeks, cricket really brings the different cultures in Britain together.
“It's great that it does so on a local level too. We've really enjoyed making contacts and building friendships with members of Lancashire's Muslim community through organising and playing this game - and I know both teams hope to repeat and build on this positive experience next summer."
The Imam of Skelmersdale, Qari Asif, said: “Sport transcends boundaries and cricket is simply a magical way to enhance community cohesion.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Pratt, The Bishop of Blackburn’s Inter-faith Adviser agreed saying: “Sport is a great way of breaking down barriers and getting to know one another. This event is going from strength to strength.”
And the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North, who has done a huge amount to help ‘build bridges’ between people of different faiths in Lancashire as part of the 'Building Bridges in Burnley' project, added: "Sport is a brilliant way to develop friendships and to bring people of diverse backgrounds together, at the same time as creating better understanding between people of different faiths.
“I’m delighted this match was able to take place and that it has become a regular fixture in the County’s sporting calendar – particularly so, as I hope to play myself next year!”