For only the second year, a new fixture in the cricketing calendar went ahead recently – a match between a team from The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) and a team representing Lancashire Council of Mosques.
The match was praised by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North, for demonstrating that ‘love, friendship and support we can have for each other, whatever our background or faith, are more important than ever’.
Clergy and laity from across the County (plus two team members from neighbouring Carlisle Diocese) were joined by Imams in a game played at Ribblesdale Cricket Club which took place subject to English Cricket Board additional Covid-19 regulations.
A full report on the game can be read here from the Diocesan team captain, Rev Dr Tom Woolford, Vicar of New Longton.
Tom says: “After the success of the first Mosques v Churches fixture played at Stonyhurst College last summer, both teams were eager to reprise their sporting rivalry. Last year’s friendly was one of the highlights of the summer, and I’m so pleased that, despite everything that has gone on this year, we were able to play this fixture again.
“Despite the very different setting (both a different ground and the additional rules for sanitising and distancing) the match itself played out similarly to last year. The Diocese finished on 105/5, giving the Imams a 66-run victory; a similar margin to last year.”
Bishop Philip, who currently chairs the Diocese’s Coronavirus Task Group, praised the initiative saying: "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.
"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."
Speaking after the match, 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.”
Munawar Din, Curate at Christ Church Blackburn, added: It was a wonderful experience to play once again against the Imams’ team. This cricket match gave us a fantastic interfaith opportunity to know each other and grow in our friendship.
And Qari Asif Badat, Imam of Skelmersdale, commented: "The friendships we have built will ensure our relationships prosper."
Andrew Pratt, The Bishop of Blackburn’s Inter-faith Adviser agreed saying: "People from all kinds of backgrounds and faiths come together in the sporting arenas of the world and find common purpose. So it is, here in Lancashire, with this wonderful cricket fixture. Sport is great way to develop friendships and bring people of diverse backgrounds together, at the same time creating better understanding between faiths."
Diocesan Team Members
Ronnie Semley, September 2020