Steven Davies has received congratulations from present and former county and international team-mates, captains and even Stephen Fry for becoming the first English cricketer to announce his homosexuality during his career. But none could empathise with him quite like Alan Hansford.
Hansford, who had four seasons with Sussex from 1989-92, outed himself in slightly lower-profile circumstances in the spring of 2008, suggesting in an email exchange with his former Combined Universities captain Mike Atherton which appeared on the Times website that “there can’t be too many accountants who dismissed you twice in a first-class match”.
Hansford had other matters on his mind when he learned of Davies’s announcement, as he was preparing for his father’s funeral on Tuesday. But he did send a message of support via text: “Good luck to Steve Davies – he has done the hard bit.”
That reaction was echoed on Twitter by the Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who is away with the England Lions in Barbados – where homosexuality is illegal, although the island is regularly described as having one of the largest gay populations in the Caribbean. “Good on Stevie D, good bloke, takes some bottle,” Gale tweeted. “Good role model, you are who you are, others may be more confident to come out now.”
Vikram Solanki, the chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association who was Davies’s captain for his five seasons at Worcestershire until the latter’s move to Surrey last summer, added: “Steve has the full support of all his colleagues in cricket. Many of those he plays with and against have known about this for some time and none of them regard it as anything other than an entirely personal matter.”
In India Ian Bell and the coach Andy Flower spoke on behalf of the England squad. “We knew before the Ashes series,” said Bell. “That didn’t change anything for us. He is a very popular guy in our team. We’re all with him, and the more cricket he can play for England the better. He is a good mate of mine and that doesn’t change absolutely anything.”
Flower, the first person to whom Davies opened up ahead of the Ashes tour, added: “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. Steve has had and will continue to have the full respect and support of the entire squad and everyone involved in England cricket. I have no doubt that he will continue to work hard to regain a place in the England squad.”
Fry was, predictably, pithier. “Brave, charming, modest and inspiring,” he said. “No big deal yet of course a huge deal. Top man Steven Davies.”
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