Studying at the Gregorian University in 1980 was a culture shock for me. After six weeks when I had learnt enough Italian to know what was going on, I discovered that Fr Rene Latourelle was gradually reading through a book that he had written. For the exam, we were expected simply to reproduce his notes as accurately as possible.
After a year and a half, two things saved my sanity: Latin and cricket. The Latin was provided by Fr Reginald Foster. The cricket was an initiative of the Venerable English College together with the Associazione Italiana di Cricket.
There were four teams at the time: us (the VEC), the Italian team, a team of Sri Lankan waiters, and the Beda College (for late vocations). The Italians were charmingly Anglophile and had learnt English well. In conversation with one player, I asked whether he had played a lot of cricket, to which he replied “I have played thrice”.
The Sri Lankans were formidable opponents with a couple of fiendish spin bowlers and an excellent batsman whose punishment of any ball slightly past leg stump with a lazy sweep still makes me shudder as I think of it.
The meeting with the Beda College was something of a needle match. They had an aussie batsman who was capable of sledging from the crease “No problem, mate, very moderate pace.”
When I get the chance, I will sort through the boxes in my attic to find the handbook of the Associazione Italiana di Cricket. This includes an Italian version of the rules of cricket, beginning, if my memory serves me correctly, with Il lanciatore lancia la palla …