Soon Vatican will have a cricket team competing against other theological institutions as the first level, and as they grow in technique and confidence they will compete at the international level. According to the Vatican authorities, this is another step towards nurturing inter-faith harmony.
Soccer is the preferred game on the European continent but due to the overwhelming presence of Roman Catholics hailing from all over the world, especially the cricket playing nations, the culture ministry has given a go ahead signal to establish a cricket side.
The Vatican cricket team will, of course, initially comprise of players (priests and students) belonging to common wealth nations like England, Australia, Sri Lanka, India and the West Indies.The Italian national cricket side is presently ranked No. 23 in the world. The Italian cricket has neither been granted an affiliate nor an associate status by the International Cricket Council.
Alfonso Jayarajah, a member of the board of St. Peter’s Cricket Club and the former captain of the Italian national team was very confident that the Vatican will soon have a cricket team that is competitive both at the national and international level.
The first wish of the Vatican side is to play at Lords, England__ the home of cricket. The players are sure that the Pope Francis will grant them permission to practice and to participate in inter collegiate tournaments. They are also hopeful that with the permission and blessing of the Pope Francis, they will be able to establish a good team in a short span of team, which will be able to compete against some of the best sides of the world.
Richard Rouse, the spokesman of the Vatican culture ministry addressing the press said:
“The Holy See has representations from more than 180 countries around the world. People come to us from all corners of the globe…When they return to their homelands, we hope some will be able to use cricket to foster good relations with their community and with other religions.”
At the moment about three hundred priests and students have shown keen interest in playing cricket for the Vatican cricket team. They are especially keen to play against the cricket team of Catholic Church of England. According to the Sri Lankan born, Alfonso Jayarajah, the member of the board of St. Peter’s Cricket Club, their next step would be to establish a women cricket of the Holy See, of course comprising of nuns and the female students, he added with a smile.
What would be the next step of the Vatican cultural wing, perhaps to have an American football team but that sport is perhaps too physical for their liking, any way a Vatican cricket team is all set to compete, and doing so give a boost to the Catholic faith on the cricket ground .
The Vatican has carried out many cultural activities in the past to promote the cause of the Catholic Church and in order to play its role in fostering inter-faith harmony but this perhaps is the first time that the Vatican has employed the game of cricket for this purpose.
An Op-ed written by: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada