England cricketer Steven Davies announces he is gay

England wicketkeeper Steven Davies has become the country's first serving professional to announce he is gay, describing the revelation as "a massive relief".

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Surrey player, aged 24, said: "I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public."

Davies, who was part of England's victorious Ashes squad, said he decided to make the announcement after months of personal conflict, receiving the full support of his team-mates.

"This is the right time for me. I feel it is right to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become. That must be a good thing," he said.

"To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about."

Davies, who started his professional cricketing career with Worcestershire when he was 18, said he could no longer bear to lie about his sexuality.

In the interview he said he had the full support of his family, who learned of his homosexuality five years ago.

"I hope it's all going to be fine with the fans," Davies added.

"If there is any abuse or anything then I don't need to worry about those people giving it out.

"The people that matter to me are family, friends and my team-mates, and everyone has been so amazing, that's what counts."

The former England under-19 captain made his international debut in 2009 against the West Indies during the Twenty20 in Trinidad.

He admitted that he was partly inspired to make the announcement by Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, who also went public about his homosexuality in 2009.

The wicketkeeper, who was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said: "Gareth Thomas's story helped me. It just showed me it can be done. He was brave enough to stand up and say who he was. It was a very courageous thing to do, so if I can help anyone else like he helped me, then that would be great."

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