Steven Davies receives England support

Monday 28 February 2011 11:46

Wicketkeeper Steven Davies has received support from his England team-mates and management after revealing he is gay.

The 24-year-old Surrey player is the first active professional cricketer to come out.

"I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public," he said in an interview with The Sun.

"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 missed out on a place in the England squad for the current World Cup campaign, came out to his friends and family five years ago.

But the first time he told any of his fellow players came following his selection for England's successful Ashes tour during the recent winter.

And he revealed the relief he felt after telling captain Andrew Strauss and the rest of the team.

"It was a fantastic thing to do, telling the lads. The difference is huge. I am so much happier," he said.

"I told Andy (Flower) first. It was a tough thing for me to do, to tell him face to face, but I had to do it.

"He supported me 100%, him and Andrew Strauss. It was the right thing to do as I felt I couldn't live like this any more."

Team director Flower expressed his support for Davies, telling the England and Wales Cricket Board website: "This is something Steve chose to discuss with myself and the squad some time ago.

"I would like to make it very clear that Steve is first and foremost a very talented cricketer and a valued member of the England set-up.

"His private life is his own concern and has absolutely no bearing on his ability to excel at the very highest level in international sport and I have no doubt that he will continue to work hard to regain a place in the England squad.

"Steve has had and will continue to have the full respect and support of the entire squad and everyone involved in England cricket."

England team-mate Ian Bell has backed Davies to be a leading player for the national side for years to come.

He said: "We knew before the Ashes series, and for us that didn't change anything.

"He is a very popular guy in our team. He's a fantastic cricketer and that's what we see him as.

"He's a massively important person in our team going forward.

"The more cricket he can play for England the better."

Welsh rugby union legend Gareth Thomas has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to look after Davies.

Thomas, who now plays rugby league for Engage Super League club Crusaders, has received plenty of high-profile support since making the decision to share his secret, but it has not all been plain sailing, having been on the receiving end of homophobic abuse from fans during a game at Castleford last year.

The supporters were banned by the Rugby Football League and the Tigers were given a fine, and Thomas hopes that the ECB will be as active as the RFL in protecting Davies.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "The ECB should send out its own message that Steven must be respected, then there wouldn't be any abuse.

"You wouldn't tolerate racism so why would you tolerate any other kind of discrimination?

"There was one incident during my first away game in rugby league where a section of Castleford fans chanted abuse at me.

"But they were reported by other Castleford fans.

"The RFL banned them and fined the club, demonstrating that rugby league is a game for everybody."

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