Aussie inspiration: Vatican cricket outreach wins Muslim support

Pope Francis’ cricket team is not only padding up against the Anglicans, it now looks set to enter an inter-faith “pitch battle” with a cricket-mad part of the Muslim world.

Aug 08, 2014

Pope Francis’ cricket team is about to enter an inter-faith “pitch battle” with the Muslim world.

VATICAN: Pope Francis’ cricket team is not only padding up against the Anglicans, it now looks set to enter an inter-faith “pitch battle” with a cricket-mad part of the Muslim world.

Officially known as the St Peter's Cricket Club, the 'Vatican XI' was instigated by cricket-tragic, and Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy.

A Sydney barrister, Mr McCarthy came up with the idea of using the cricket talent from the group of international priests and seminarians working and studying in Rome to form a team soon after his appointment there in 2010.

It came to fruition in October last year.

The team is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican's department of sport.

And it's likely the Vatican XI side now will have not only extra financial and in-kind support but Pakistan might also provide a leading Test cricketer as their coach.

The Governor of Pakistan's Sindh province, Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, has given his blessing to the Vatican team as well as a cheque for $US2000 ($A2,165) and six test-quality made-in-Pakistan cricket bats.

Dr Ishrat ul Ebad made the presentation to Australian priest and club committee member Fr Robert McCulloch and Aamir Bhatti, a Pakistani seminarian who has been selected for the team, at the governor's house in Karachi on July 8.

The team is made up of eight Indians, two Sri Lankans, and one each from Pakistan, England and Ireland.

The side will travel to England in September to go up against the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI and also the Royal Household at Windsor Castle and other teams.

Pope Francis is to farewell the team before they leave.

Dr Ishrat ul Ebad, a former cricketer himself, told Fr McCulloch he proposes a tri-team contest between the Vatican XI, the Archbishop of Canterbury's side and a Governor of Sindh's XI team made up of Islamic theology students.

“He told me he sees this as a way of manifesting friendship and harmony through sport,” Fr McCulloch told AAP from Rome.

“All Pakistanis are fundamentalists when it comes to cricket.” “

This gesture by the governor of Sindh shows the ordinary goodness of Pakistan that gets pushed to the side by reports about violence and Taliban.” -- CatholicNews Resources

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