AN annual cricket match designed to promote 'love and friendship' between players of Christian and Muslim faiths took place for a third time in Preston last week.

Blackburn Diocese, representing the Church of England in Lancashire, took on a team from the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) at New Longton Cricket Club on Wednesday - with the Diocese taking victory for the first time in a tight game.

The teams were made up of players from several Lancashire locations including Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Padiham and Preston.

The Diocese side consisted of both clergy and laity, while teachers, clerics and mosque members made up the LCM team - with a special appearance from Burnley council leader Cllr Afrasiab Anwar.

The Bishop of Burnley, Reverend Philip North, said: "Since its inception it’s been fantastic to see this encounter grow to become a regular fixture in the County’s cricketing calendar.

"I was delighted to be able to attend this year and even more pleased to be invited to take a turn as umpire.

"The love, friendship and mutual support embodied in the match tangibly shows us that, whatever our background and faith, we can work together to achieve great things ... while enjoying each others’ company at the same time.

"That’s a message that is so important to get across just now; particularly after the very difficult year we have all experienced."

Captain of the LCM side, Abdul Alim, commented: "This fixture always ensures a few pleasant surprises, maybe this year complacency had set in which we will hope to address next time!

"Whilst the result may have gone against us this year, the camaraderie and friendships have continued to blossom, which is far more important."

Abdul’s teammate, Cllr Afrasiab Anwar said: "Sport is and always has been a great way to bring communities together. I'm delighted I was given the opportunity to take part in this annual fixture.

"The result is not important … what matters is the mutual respect, conversations and lasting friendships. My bowling figures were the icing on the cake!"

Meanwhile Diocesan Captain, Tom Woolford, added: “This is such a great fixture and I’m thrilled we’ve finally got one over our friends and rivals at the Council of Mosques. I wouldn’t want them to get bored of thrashing us!

"I hope the profile of this match increases in the years ahead as people in Lancashire hear about the fun and friendship we are able to share around our mutual love of cricket, banter and food."

Any clergy or laity interested in getting involved in the cricket can email - with the team particularly wishing to add more women to its team sheet.