Sweeping support for Davies
England set-up backs wicket-keeper after coming out
Last Updated: 28/02/11 11:26am
Davies: Supported by cricket community
Steven Davies has received support from within the England set-up after becoming the first active cricketer to reveal he is gay.
"It was a fantastic thing to do, telling the lads. The difference is huge. I am so much happier."
Steven Davies Quotes of the week
The 24-year-old wicket-keeper, who has represented his country at both one-day international and Twenty20 level, came out to his family and friends five years ago.
But he had not told any of his fellow players until he was selected for England's successful Ashes tour over the winter.
And he says he feels a big sense of relief after telling both his team-mates and now the rest of the public.
"I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public," he told 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."
He added: "It was a fantastic thing to do, telling the lads. The difference is huge. I am so much happier.
"I told (team director) 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 per cent, him and Andrew Strauss. It was the right thing to do as I felt I couldn't live like this any more."
England coach Flower was quick to express his support for Davies and backed him to win back his place in the England side after missing out on the World Cup.
"This is something Steve chose to discuss with myself and the squad some time ago," he told the England and Wales Cricket Board's official website.
"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 added: "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."
Dual-code rugby star Gareth Thomas, who came out in 2009 and whose story Davies said he was helped by, has called on the ECB to protect the Surrey player.
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."