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In close match, Vatican cricket team beats St Mary’s University

In a match fought in the shadow of a majestic 11th century castle, the Vatican cricket team claims a hard-won victory.

By Joseph Tulloch – London

On Monday, the Vatican cricket team faced off against St Mary’s University, a Catholic institution based in Twickenham, London.

The game was played at the spectacular Arundel cricket ground on England’s south coast. The pitch there lies a stone’s throw from Arundel Castle, parts of which date back to the 11th century, and which was once home to the saint and martyr Philip Howard.

The Vatican team tours Arundel Castle before heading to the cricket ground

The Vatican team tours Arundel Castle before heading to the cricket ground

The match

As the Vatican team arrived at the pitch following a tour of the castle, it looked set to be a good match. The St Mary’s side had been specially formed for the occasion, and included a player from the England Men’s Deaf cricket team.

The Vatican opened the batting. They hit well and consistently, with an excellent final push that took their total to 136 for 5.

St Mary’s immediately fought back, with an impressive opening partnership that lasted until the end of the tenth over.

Once they had taken their first wicket, however, the Vatican bowlers were able to ratchet up the pressure, forcing an increasing number of dot balls. The game was on a knife-edge until the very last over, with the British side ultimately coming up just five runs short, with a total of 131 for 5.

The Vatican's bowlers turn up the pressure

The Vatican’s bowlers turn up the pressure

Building bridges

When Pope Francis met recently with Athletica Vaticana – the umbrella association to which the Vatican cricket team belongs – he stressed the power of sport to “build bridges, break down barriers, and foster peaceful relations”.

This was a theme that Professor Anthony McLaran, the Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, picked up on, in an interview with Vatican News between innings.

The Vice-Chancellor stressed the variety of backgrounds among the players present at the match.

“We have so many people competing from different parts of the world”, he said, “but they have in common their love of cricket and their love of the Church. That’s something to celebrate.”

Professor Anthony McLaran

Professor Anthony McLaran

Upcoming match against the King’s team

The following day, the Vatican team visited the Chapel Royal – King Charles’ personal place of worship – for an ecumenical service.

The visit was part of the preparation for the squad’s next match, a clash on Wednesday with the King’s XI at the royal residence of Windsor Castle.

In attendance was Chris Trott, the UK Ambassador to the Holy See. He said that the upcoming match would be not only ecumenical – as King Charles is the head of the Anglican Church – but also international, a clash between two sovereign states.

It’s a reminder, Ambassador Trott said, of the fascinating and complex history of relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom.

The Vatican team visits Arundel Castle

The Vatican team visits Arundel Castle

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