England's Steve Davies announces he is gay

England’s Steven Davies bats during a One Day International cricket match against Pakistan in September. Davies has publicly announced that he is gay, becoming, it is believed, the first active professional cricketer to out himself.

London: Feb 28, 2011

England wicketkeeper Steven Davies publicly announced on Monday that he is gay, becoming, it is believed, the first active professional cricketer to out himself. The Surrey gloveman, 24, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that he wanted it to be more acceptable to come out.

“I just felt it was the right time for me,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve obviously wanted to do for a long time. I’ve probably been comfortable with it now for a couple of years. The reason why I’ve decided to make it public is simply because I think the more people who do it the more acceptable it becomes.”

Davies, who was part of England’s victorious Ashes squad, said he decided to reveal his sexuality to his team-mates before the tour of Australia and received the full support of his colleagues.

Davies was in England’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad but did not make the cut.

“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,” he said.

Davies said he told his family 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,” Davies said.

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

“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.”

Left-handed batsman Davies, who started his career with Worcestershire, is a former England under-19 captain. He made his international debut in a Twenty20 match against the West Indies at Port of Spain in March 2009, playing his first one-day international against Australia at Centurion in October that year.

In his eight ODIs so far, he has scored 244 runs, with a highest score of 87, taking eight catches.

Meanwhile, England batsman Ian Bell extended his support to Davies and said that the wicketkeeper-batsman had a “massive future in English cricket” and that was all that mattered.

“We knew before the Ashes series. That didn’t change anything for us. He is a very popular guy in our team, a good mate of mine and that doesn’t change absolutely anything,” Bell said.

“He went to coach Andy Flower first and then it came to the group. I don’t think it had any effect on any of the guys. We all supported him through the tour which could have been very difficult,” he added.

Coach Flower said, “Steve’s private life is his own concern. It has absolutely no bearing on his ability to excel at the very highest level in international sport.”