Steven Davies, the England wicket keeper, has announced he is gay.

The 24-year-old came out to his family five years ago and to his teammates last year but came out publicly in an interview today.

He is the first professional cricketer to come out and just one of a handful of top British sportsmen to do so.

Mr Davies, who first played for England in 2009, told the Daily Telegraph he made the decision to tell teammates just before they went to Australia for the Ashes.

He came out after confiding in team coach Andy Flower who, with captain Andrew Strauss, telephoned every member of the team on Mr Davies’ behalf.

“[Flower] agreed I had to tell the boys,” Mr Davies said. “I couldn’t live like this any more.”

He added: “Their line was: ‘Steve wants you to know he’s gay. But it’s not an issue. Let’s just get on with it.’

“I owe them both a lot. They were 100 per cent behind me and made me feel everything would be all right. In fact, I felt I was probably making a big deal out of it.”

The team agreed to keep the news quiet to protect the wicket keeper until the spotlight was off.

Mr Davies described how he faced the team for the first time after the coach told them he was gay. He said that each man shook his hand and told him he had done the right thing.

But he said that the strain of hiding his sexuality had been hard.

“If I am brutally honest, I never enjoyed touring because of my secret and having to conceal my sexuality,” he says.

“My friendships with the guys would reach a certain level, then I’d have to take a step back.”

Gareth Thomas, who came out last year, told the Sun: “I know how hard it is to be honest about something like this when you are in the public eye.

“For him to be able to come out and talk about it at his age is refreshing and hopefully, like when I came out, will encourage and inspire others to feel they can do the same.”