Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland launched a new Commonwealth peacebuilding initiative at Lord’s cricket ground in London on 6 July. “Peace at the Crease” draws on Commonwealth cricket connections to develop sport for development and peace, a longstanding priority of the 53-member family of nations.
The initiative adds to the distinctive approaches adopted by Commonwealth countries in mobilising specially designed sport-based interventions towards shared Commonwealth Charter goals of peacebuilding and development. It is envisaged that a range of cricket-based peace building programmes will build foundations of respect and understanding as the basis for greater inclusiveness and cooperation within and among communities.
Speaking at the launch, the Secretary-General described cricket as a “unifying tool” that can bring people together and break down barriers. “Cricket is one of many things that bind the 53 Commonwealth countries. When used strategically cricket can make a valuable contribution to building communities, promoting unity and connecting people across religions, cultures, races and regions,” she said.
The Secretary-General was joined by diplomats, renowned cricketers, religious and community leaders at the launch.
Emphasising the significance of the initiative, the Secretary-General added, “There will be two teams but one goal, to bowl-out inter-communal and other tensions and to hit a six for peace, inclusion and community cohesion.”
The first match under the initiative, will be between the Vatican XI and a multi-faith Commonwealth team at the Indian Gymkhana Club on 9 July.
Cricket legend, Clive Lloyd, spoke about the role of cricket in changing minds. He said, “When we [as a team] did not visit South Africa a couple of decades ago, sport caused them to change their thinking. Their apartheid system was then changed because of our action. So, to me, sport plays a very important role in bringing peace to the world.”
Following the launch, an interfaith cricket match was played between the Vatican and Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, and the Interfaith team at the home of cricket, Lord’s Cricket Stadium.
The match brought people from various Commonwealth countries together to unite and celebrate a sense of common purpose which signified this year’s Commonwealth theme “Towards a Common Future”.
The captain of the Interfaith team, Lord Patel, tossed the coin to kick off the afternoon’s proceedings, and joined his team to bowl for the first innings.
Spectators from around the Commonwealth described the match as “thrilling”.
“As cricket is a popular sport played among many nations of the Commonwealth, it is a great tool that unites us all and enables us to exchange interests and beliefs,” said Swadeka Ahsun, from Mauritius.
The game ended with a win for the Vatican and Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, who beat the interfaith team with a total score of 185.
The captain of winning team, Chris Kennedy, said the match was among his favourites. He added, “The great privilege for me to captain my team is to be able to take the message of joy to other places and encourage others to see that it is not about our differences but it is actually about the opportunities we have, when we are together, to be able to bring hope.”