“WE wanted to do something positive - religion gets blamed for so many things and we wanted to do something positive to bring people together and we thought why not a cricket match?”
And so, in the words of the Reverend Keith Claringbull, vicar of Hampton in Arden, was born Tuesday’s inaugural Vicars versus Imams cricket match although he was quick to give full credit to local GP Dr Roger Charlton. “He was the brains really, and I just helped him along,” he said.
On the day itself, The Gods were smiling too - a glorious summer evening greeted the players, 11 Imams or prayer leaders from Solihull, and 10 members of the local clergy with the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rev David Urquhart as 11th man.
“It’s the first time I’ve played cricket in 40 years,” he confessed, “but what could be more wonderful than to come out to Hampton in Arden on a lovely evening to play cricket on this beautiful pitch?”
Dr Issam Ghaanan, the main Imam of Solihull, was equally enthusiastic: “A few weeks ago we only had six players but the match really caught the imagination of everyone and by the end we had 20 people all eager to play.”
In the end the Imams made 87 in their 20 overs, with their skipper Azim Zia notching up a top score of 20.
In reply the vicars, facing some tight bowling, made 57 handing the trophy, donated by Hampton Manor, to the Imams. “To be fair I think they were missing a couple of their regular batsmen,” said Afrid Ali for the Imams.
The Rev Claringbull was also delighted: “It was a jolly good game, very competitive and good fun.”
All agreed that the match will now be an annual fixture for June.