A CRICKET team from Batley were bowled over by the Vatican – and next they head off to Panama.
Mount CC narrowly lost to St Peter’s Cricket Club in Rome last Saturday in a game which attracted worldwide media interest.
A party of 33 from the Halifax Road-based side spent four days on an inter-faith mission.
They competed for the Sir John Major Friendship Cup which was billed as the first-ever official cricket match between Christian and Muslim faiths.
Mount lost the Twenty20 encounter at Rome’s Capannelle Cricket Ground in the last over. They are now preparing for a pre-season tour of Panama in Central America next year.
During the Rome trip the Mount travelling party toured St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museums.
Mount chairman Hanif Mayet said: “The four days in Rome will be etched into our memory and hearts as an unforgettable experience.”
The group included 11 players plus supporters and key members of the club’s committee.
Due to a lack of space in the tiny enclave St Peter’s cannot play inside the walls of the Vatican so instead they do so at a pitch owned by Roma Capannelle Cricket Club.
Their team is mostly made up of trainee priests, many from the Indian sub-continent.
Pratheesh Thomas, of St Peter’s, said: “We have realised one of our dreams to play against a team composed of Muslim friends.”
Mount played a warm-up friendly against Roma Capannelle which they won by six wickets. The visit was to build bridges between faiths through cricket. A return match could be at Headingley.
MP Jo Cox (Lab, Batley and Spen) said: “I’m incredibly proud of the club. This is a well-deserved accolade. Batley has a proud and ever more impressive sporting tradition in so many different disciplines. As well as excelling in competitions we also see so many fine examples of sport being used to bring people, communities and faiths closer together.”