Sport

Gay cricketers won’t come out until ‘stigma’ is knocked for six, bosses warned

Amelia Hansford May 25, 2022
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Steve Davies in full cricket gear

Cricketer Steve Davies is the first and only English male pro to come out as gay. (Alex Davidson/Getty)

Gay cricket coach and activist Sam Schofield has criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for “letting down” the LGBTQ+ community.

After Jake Daniels became England’s first pro male footballer to come out as gay in more than three decades, Schofield spoke of the need for more LGBTQ+ role models in cricket.

Schofield, founder of the world’s first LGBTQ+ cricket supporter’s club for a professional team, Pride Surrey, called the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community by the ECB “like a bit of a tick box [system].”

Having previously hailed the openness of the England women’s cricket team, he said there was “more to be done” around the men’s league.

“There’s still that stigma around male sport, people being open within the sport while they are still actively playing,” Schofield, a Surrey coach and head of cricket at Nottingham High School, told The Cricketer.

One of the biggest issues is the lack of openness in the sport, with Steven Davies being the only male English pro cricketer to have ever come out, in 2011. Comparatively, the women’s division has players like Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt, an openly gay cricketer couple.

Natalie Sciver consoles Katherine brunt, (Photo by Phil Walter-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

“I’m conflicted because if they’re a first-team player of a national [team], doesn’t mean they should [come out],” Schofield said. “It is private, it’s their decision about when they’re comfortable and ready. I just think it is so powerful to have those role models.”

Schofield believes the ECB isn’t doing enough to introduce acceptance into the sport, which was a huge reason for creating Proud Surrey.

Schofield continued: “We know through Pride Surrey that people have been worried about being proud at matches or going to watch a match because of their sexuality.

“Now we have a supporters’ group that has made them feel a little bit better about themselves and [shows that] cricket is for them. We’d like more help from the ECB to really push it.”

The ECB occasionally partners with Stonewall for the charities’ “Rainbow Laces weekends“, where cricketers wear pride laces on their boots.

Last summer also saw the first-ever fully inclusive LGBTQ+ game of cricket between Graces CC and Unicorns CC. But Schofield believes that there is more potential for inclusivity.

“If we take last year’s [Rainbow Laces weekend], for instance, it was announced the evening before the weekend. That’s just not good enough,” he said.

More: cricket, Stonewall

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