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Cricketer Comes Out
February 28, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

England cricketer Steven Davies has come out in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, having come out to the England squad prior to the Ashes, making him the first openly gay professional cricketer. The Guardian tries to work out what this says about cricket
posted by hoyland (55 comments total)

 
Good for him. Must take a lot of courage. I'm still trying to work out what cricket is all about, but good for him.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:35 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Makes me think of this for some reason.

Good for him, though.
posted by Huck500 at 6:39 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, he has balls.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2011


I'm still trying to work out what cricket is all about

It's a game where you swing your bat, touch your crease, field balls, and worry about a sticky wicket.

I'm surprised he's the first to come out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I say, a bit of a sticky wicket, indeed. *adjusts monocle*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rugby, cricket, your turn football.
posted by josher71 at 6:41 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a boring white hetero guy, I'm pleased as punch any time someone is the first to come out in a particular category. I can't wait until the day we've run out of places for people to be 'the first openly gay person in x' - hopefully the world in general will have ceased to care before that point.

josher71: I'm not a football fan, but I am a fan of Scott Fujita who not only appears to be an all-around good guy, but openly speaks out in support of gay marriage:
"I have never claimed to have all the answers … still haven’t met someone who does. But I have some strong opinions about things, especially when it comes to issues of prejudice and inequality. I also recognize that the platform I’ve been given as a professional athlete will be taken from under me once I leave this game, at which point no one will care to ask my opinion. So in the meantime, why not stand for something?"
posted by komara at 6:46 PM on February 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I say, a bit of a sticky wicket, indeed. *adjusts monocle*

We are not aroused.

sorry
posted by jonmc at 6:54 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


In case anyone else here was scanning for how he fared in last Sunday's "decent" cricket match, here's your answer: he has been left out of the English World Cup squad.

Not hinting at anything, merely saying that he isn't playing the World Cup.
posted by the cydonian at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


PareidoliaticBoy, this is how my Year 8 Physical Education teacher explained cricket in my 1981 high school magazine:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in, goes out. And when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out, the side that's out comes in, and the side that's been in goes out and tried to get those coming in out.

Sometimes you get men still in but not out.

When both sides have been in and out (including not out), that's the end of the game.


On a more serious note, I can't wait until the day we've run out of places for people to be 'the first openly gay person in x'. Well said, komara, and I can't wait for that day either.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2011


Here's how I explain cricket to my North American relatives.

"So - baseball is a reason to spend the afternoon drinking, right?

Cricket is five days of drinking."
posted by jjderooy at 6:59 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well played, that man.
posted by pompomtom at 7:08 PM on February 28, 2011


the cydonian: last Sunday's "decent" cricket match

Thanks for alerting me to a new Zaltzman post on cricinfo.

I know absolutely nothing about cricket but his World Cup blog has made me interested to learn. It's such a joy to read and the podcast is great too.

And like komara I, also a boring hetero dude, get very excited every time a "first gay X" milestone is reached. That said, I am looking forward to a time when there will be "first gay" moments anymore.
posted by Kattullus at 7:11 PM on February 28, 2011


What it means is that people are finally starting to be publicly the person they are in real life. Things should always been like this.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:14 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Our Australian friends are still waiting for half of the rest of the (triumphant, oh yes) Ashes squad to admit they're not actually English.
posted by Abiezer at 7:21 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a boring white hetero guy, I'm pleased as punch any time someone is the first to come out in a particular category

It would be fun to know who came out as the first gay "unemployed".
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:22 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cricket is the ultimate multi-tasking sport; you can follow the game while working by merely having a screen playing the match live in the background (or a window updating the scores) Doesn't really need much involvement, except for the last five overs of each innings (that's about 30 minutes with a 3.5 hour gap).

Makes it perfect for people like me; I actually find soccer difficult to follow because I need to drop everything and follow the match with rapt attention for ninety minutes. A frightful waste of my time, unless I'm drinking or something.

Really, it's almost as if it's a sport designed for geeks; it's full of graphs, stats and rules, along with a FarmVille-like gameplay (in that you involve yourself with it in bursts). If you don't have access to costly sports packages (which is true for most of the world, I'm guessing, except India), the _main_ mode of following the game now is to trace through logs not dissimilar to this one. As far as I know, there's no other sport which you can follow textually to the extent you can follow cricket.

If there's any sport ripe for geek-culture cult-ization in North America, it is cricket.

--
(On preview)
Thanks for alerting me to a new Zaltzman post on cricinfo.

Oh, Zaltzman has been on a roll these days; he's been touring the sub-continent and has been absolutely fantastic. Remains to be seen if he can keep up the jokes for a month, but something tells me he can; he exhudes a natural joy when he's talking sport that he simply doesn't do when he does political humour.

Makes you wonder why he doesn't specialize in (or at least focus on) sports stand-up, specifically non-US sports stand-up (ie F1, soccer, cricket), as opposed to political humour, which, frankly, is a crowded field given Daily Show, Colbert Report, The Onion etc.
--
(On topic)

I really have nothing to add other than to chime in with the others here and congratulate Davies on his brave statement. I'm also a bit disappointed that you can't get a _true_ sense of how the rest of the cricketing world reacts to this mostly because he isn't in the sub-continent now, and is not playing the World Cup, although it is possible that most spectators wouldn't care much; somehow, there has been a firewall between what happens off the field and what happens on. Still, it would have been interesting to check that out.
posted by the cydonian at 7:42 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love Scott Fujita.
posted by ltracey at 8:31 PM on February 28, 2011


> I see. Thanks.

~ Starts carefully picking imaginary strychnine from the peyote buttons ~
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:25 PM on February 28, 2011


Rugby, cricket, your turn football

Justin Fashanu came out in 1990. He was immediately ostracised (no club would give him a contract) and killed himself a few years later after being falsely accused of sexual assault.

It's an incredibly sad story, and the fact that it's been largely forgotten makes it even sadder. Would the same fate befall a footballer who came out today? Probably not, in fact I doubt most fans or players would give a shit, but if I were a gay player I imagine Fashanu's fate would make me even less inclined to come out.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 3:17 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rugby, cricket, your turn football.

Justin Fashanu came out in 1990. Of course, there haven't been any openly gay footballers since.

On reflection: I see you're in the US and were probably talking about American football. I'll leave my comment up, in case anyone's interested in soccer-football.

malibustacey9999: that description of cricket has been around a lot longer than 1981, I suspect your teacher was quoting it.

Cydonian: interesting that Prior got the spot over Davies. Prior's record in ODIs isn't as good (although Davies has played far fewer). But Prior's test record is pretty damn good (averages over 40) so maybe he looks like a safer choice?
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:17 AM on March 1, 2011


Was he ever in the world cup squad? I mean is form wasn't great over the summer. His exclusion might not be sinister
posted by the noob at 3:35 AM on March 1, 2011


the _main_ mode of following the game now is to trace through logs not dissimilar to this one. As far as I know, there's no other sport which you can follow textually to the extent you can follow cricket.


This, while true, makes me a little sad. Text commentary should, wherever possible be augmented with Test Match Special, which deserves a FPP all of its own.

TMS has been broadcasting England's cricket matches since 1957 and has spent a large portion of that time giggling and talking about cakes, the buses and pigeons. During breaks in play they might be talking to someone famous or just someone Aggers met through twitter. Blowers will certainly never run out of things to talk about.

Listen to some TMS highlights here and a brilliant, if slightly out of date introduction to the Ashes and TMS here [shorter documentary on the history of TMS here.]

There is a podcast, a blog, a flickr stream and many of the commentators have twitter, but there's only one way to keep up to date. Listen to it. Here is the schedule.

Apologies for the derail, cricket and Steven Davies have both dealt with this superbly. Here's to a future where this isn't news at all.
posted by mnfn at 3:59 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bodyline
posted by infini at 4:04 AM on March 1, 2011


the noob Was he ever in the world cup squad? I mean is form wasn't great over the summer. His exclusion might not be sinister.

Mike Selvey (ex-England player and now journalist, though not the author of the Guardian's article) voices his opinion here in the comments on the Guardian article.

Mike Selvey's comment:
It didn't take long for someone to come up with this idea. To suggest it is not insulting to Steve, who is totally aware of and at ease with the reasons he was dropped. But it does insult the integrity of Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss.

Just to add to Hoppsy's excellent piece. It was written a while ago in preparation , because it is something of which he and I were fully aware very early on in the Ashes tour, but quite rightly believed was not a story for us or anyone else to pursue or break other than at the timing of Steve's choosing.Certainly we kept it to ourselves beyond telling ECB. That the story indeed not emerge until he decided tells a lot of his colleagues and employer, the latter of which was aware of our knowledge, and something of the close and trusting relationship that exists between some in the press and the players of a kind that does not exist in many other sports.

It is of course right that his sexuality shouldn't matter but it would take a particularly blinkered person not to understand that being the first cricketer to out himself carries considerable significance. Others will benefit from Steve's fortitude.

posted by selton at 4:22 AM on March 1, 2011


making him the first openly gay professional cricketer.

I don't know, there was something, at the very least, very homosocial about Raffles and Bunny. But, then I guess Raffles played club cricket.
posted by OmieWise at 4:53 AM on March 1, 2011


I'm pretty sure Raffles played for the Gentlemen of England - not a national side, but not quite a club side, either.
posted by DNye at 5:01 AM on March 1, 2011


Ah, well, you've got me there. He did play for the Gentlemen of England (wink, wink, nudge, nudge--the ones "now abed?"). But since I know nothing about cricket except that Raffles played it, I assumed from the description that it was not a "professional" team. I'll be honest, this was just an excuse to make a comment about Raffles.

I'm glad in a sort of general way about this news, otherwise.
posted by OmieWise at 5:04 AM on March 1, 2011


HOW IS HE?!

OUT!

Man, I can't believe I'm the first one to get there!
posted by Decani at 5:12 AM on March 1, 2011


Makes me think of this for some reason.

posted by Huck500 at 2:39 AM on March 1 [2 favorites -] Favorite added!


Holy shit... a Python sketch I'd not seen before! Made me laugh like a drain, too.
posted by Decani at 5:15 AM on March 1, 2011


Man, I can't believe I'm the first one to get there!

You're not. The word you're looking for is "howzat?".
posted by pompomtom at 5:33 AM on March 1, 2011


Football has a way to go yet: "Former Republic of Ireland international Tony Cascarino expresses a gay player's worst fears and believes that football dressing rooms are not mature enough to accept gay players"
posted by marienbad at 5:41 AM on March 1, 2011


This weekend I was listening to the hometown basketball radio pre-game show and one of the guys on the show, a former National Football League player, said he believes we are years away from an out NFL team member.

It is 2011 and there is not one out guy in the NFL, the NBA or Major League Baseball. Weird. Those guys sure act like they are friends. I wonder how this folds in with Aristotle's ideas on the topic of friendship (Eudemian Ethics, Book VII), or if it even does.
posted by bukvich at 6:07 AM on March 1, 2011


You're not. The word you're looking for is "howzat?".

pompomtom, you're flat wrong. The only time anyone says "Howzat" is in adverts and tv programmes which portray cricket, made by people who don't know the game.

"Owwizzee" is the standard method of making an appeal, in England certainly. Only a complete Neophyte would say Howzat.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:36 AM on March 1, 2011


Slightly offtopic, but I can just about imagine a successful male footballer at a reasonably advanced stage in his career coming out - it would affect his career adversely, but the desperation for success in the upper echelons would mean that biggish but cash-strapped clubs in danger of losing their place at the table might be ready to take a chance - after all, football has forgiven, forgotten, ignored or underplayed spousal abuse, assault, firearms offences, drug cartel connections and on occasion killing. It would probably be harder to fit into the dressing room as a gay man than as someone who had caused death through dangerous driving, though, for example. For a young and openly gay man, I think it would be very hard to get established, regardless of one's ability.

On the plus side, Stonewall FC is a very good amateur English football team made up of gay men, and is playing at the seventh level of the National League System - that is, it was promoted to the national leagues from the regional leagues last year. It also regularly wins World Championships and Gay Olympic gold medals. Then again, one reason it is good is its traditional status as a place for gay footballers who can't brook the homophobia of other teams. If it became easier to be an out gay footballer at the upper amateur or semi-pro level, the recruitment pool might shrink. At a lower level, there's the Gay Football Supporters Network League, a small league of LGBT and LGBT-friendly teams with some great names - the Nottingham Ball Bois, the Leicester Wildecats and Leftfooter FC are particularly awe-inspiring.

tl;dr: Football is not wholly homophobic, but being gay and really, really good at football is still a lousy hand to be dealt. Hopefully this will change, and LGBT representation at the higher levels of other sports can only be a good thing. It sucks that people have to have long nights of soul-searching before opting out of the mandatory hetero presentation of professional sports, though.
posted by DNye at 6:43 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no such thing as a pure wicketkeeper in modern cricket, Test or one-day. Nowadays you have to be able to do both. Davies is the England number 1 keeper in the making while Prior is the current keeper and it is his ability with the bat that is keeping him in the side.

Davies is rated the better keeper (I've been hearing how good Davies' hands are since about 2005) yet England still pick Prior ahead of him despite Prior's slightly dodgy handling. Interestingly, in recent months Prior's keeping has improved distinctly, as has Davies' batting. So England now have an embarrassment of riches in an area which used to be prolematic.

If Davies had been picked ahead of Prior it would have been a remarkable decision. I do not believe that Davies' coming-out had any influence on selection one way or the other.

Speaking of football, I was watching a game the other day and the subject was raised. As we went through a list of "is he/isn't he" players it struck me that there are no "out" footballers yet the sheer number of players mean there must be dozens, at least, currently playing but not out. Yet no-one knows who they are. Because you can't tell. It doesn't make you a better player, or a worse player, or even a different player. In my view, the spectator has no right to this information.

This makes Davies' move all the more commendable since his was a selfless act that can only benefit others, yet still had a significant risk attached.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 7:23 AM on March 1, 2011


"Owwizzee" is the standard method of making an appeal, in England certainly. Only a complete Neophyte would say Howzat.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:36 PM on March 1


Thank you. And pompomtom is from Melbourne! Typical Aussie. What do they know about cricket?
:-)
posted by Decani at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2011


This, while true, makes me a little sad. Text commentary should, wherever possible be augmented with Test Match Special, which deserves a FPP all of its own.

Oh absolutely! Radio is absolutely how you should follow cricket; it's such a personalized medium, you get the scores but you have to close your eyes and still imagine the stadium, the field placement and the atmosphere. Pity that BBC World Service (to which I've taken to listening to rather religiously) doesn't run the Test Match Special on its broadcast.

Didn't know there was a Test Match Special podcast though; thanks for sharing, I've subscribed to it. Should be fun.
posted by the cydonian at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2011


Continuing the football derail: Lily Parr was an out lesbian who lived with her partner while playing for the legendary Dick, Kerr's Ladies, who she signed with in 1919.

She also insisted on a supply of cigarettes as part of her contract, and supposedly broke the arm of a male goalkeeper who suggested she was only any good compared to other women. I think I have a new heroine.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 7:57 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


English Sport as seen by the Dutch.
posted by Pendragon at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2011


Didn't know there was a Test Match Special podcast though; thanks for sharing, I've subscribed to it. Should be fun.

My pleasure. Could not agree more on the World Service. You know that they do podcasts too? I highly recommend the BBC World Service documentary podcasts too.
posted by mnfn at 9:48 AM on March 1, 2011


Okay, so, on an almost entirely unrelated note, this comment (in the Sachin Tendulkar thread) led me to this comment (above), which led me to this wikipedia page about Justin Fashanu, which completed for me a fifteen year old half memory: I guess I was ten years old, so it must have been 1996, I was a ballboy at Newtown Park, where my Father kept for Wellington United in the New Zealand National Summer League (of a standard probably slightly lower than the British Football Conference). In the clubrooms after a game, presumably against Miramar Rangers for whom Justin Fashanu played*, there was an argument and a couple of players took it outside where my cousin and I were playing one touch against the wall. There were words, punches, pats on the back, and a resolution of sorts and they all went back inside except a tall black guy who asked us the rules and joined in for a bit. Then he sat down and we went over to him and asked him about his accent (which was amazing) and who his favourite soccer** player was (I can't remember) and he said "The best players aren't always my favourite players". He went inside and then this guy came over to us and said "Do you know who that guy was? He played for Man U," which wasn't true - wikipedia confirms he had two starts for City, but never played for United, and he's better known for a variety of other reasons - but it was moot because we didn't believe him anyway. And now he's dead.

*I'm a bit vague about this - there's a good chance I was actually at a Rangers home game, their home ground being fifteen minutes from Newtown Park and my childhood weekends being primarily spent at football grounds of some description.
**Football was called soccer in New Zealand until about three years ago. Now we're in an awkward transition phase where the word "football" is often followed by "do you mean football football or football?"?

posted by doublehappy at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2011


"Owwizzee" is the standard method of making an appeal, in England certainly. Only a complete Neophyte would say Howzat.

Howzat is perfectly acceptable, although my appeals tend toward a spoken "How was that?" usually in such a tone as to express my incredulity that there's anyone on the entire fucking planet that doesn't think it's out, and followed by a questioning glare.
posted by doublehappy at 1:38 PM on March 1, 2011


Speaking of football, I was watching a game the other day and the subject was raised. As we went through a list of "is he/isn't he" players it struck me that there are no "out" footballers yet the sheer number of players mean there must be dozens, at least, currently playing but not out. Yet no-one knows who they are. Because you can't tell. It doesn't make you a better player, or a worse player, or even a different player. In my view, the spectator has no right to this information.

Well, Marcus Urban, who has no English Wikipedia article, does have a theory for spotting gay footballers. (To avoid straying into speculation, I'm not going to say what it is.)

Football is the context in which I spend the most time thinking about what obligation one out and what the boundaries between personal and public life are (to do with sexual orientation or not). I've concluded that there is no right answer. Part of me wants a footballer to come out because the math says there's lot of people waiting to do so, another part of me says they have no obligation to and I shouldn't want that and a third part doesn't care either way and wouldn't wish the ensuing hullaballoo on anyone. In any case, I suspect that, in football, it won't be a case of coming out, but of someone being outed.*

*Personally, my money's on Bild for doing it.
posted by hoyland at 8:44 PM on March 1, 2011


In related news: Rugby League players unveil landmark anti-homophobia kit.*

* - kit = rugby jersey and shorts).
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on March 3, 2011


Sheffield Eagles Online Store has the jersey available for sale.
posted by ericb at 3:42 PM on March 3, 2011


What it means is that people are finally starting to be publicly the person they are in real life. Things should always been like this.
"My name is Harvey Milk, and I want to recruit you.

... Gay people, we will not win our rights by staying silently in our closets ... We are coming out. We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives."*
posted by ericb at 4:16 PM on March 3, 2011


When will it ever be OK for American athletes to show the courage Steve Davies has?
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on March 3, 2011


In related news: Rugby League players unveil landmark anti-homophobia kit.*

That's great. English soccer was talking about something similar, but it never went anywere (in sad contrast to the very effective 'Kick Racism out of Football' campaign that has seen a real reduction in racist chanting at English grounds).
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:57 PM on March 3, 2011


I wish that rugby shirt wasn't 50 dollars, otherwise I'd buy immediately. I may have to anyway.

On the Stoke City message board I frequent there was a discussion about whether anyone would care if there was a gay soccer player on the team. Most people reacted saying that they wouldn't care and that all that mattered was the performance on the field. There was, unfortunately, a fair number of people that felt like their sexual orientation was fair game for abusive chants.
posted by josher71 at 7:01 AM on March 4, 2011


Interview: Surrey and England Wicket-Keeper-Batsman Steven Davies On Coming Out [04:07].
posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's great. English soccer was talking about something similar, but it never went anywere (in sad contrast to the very effective 'Kick Racism out of Football' campaign that has seen a real reduction in racist chanting at English grounds).

I seem to recall that the issue was partly that the FA couldn't find any footballers to front a campaign. I remember thinking that they should have asked (the now and then perpetually injured) Owen Hargreaves, mostly on the grounds that I associate him a bit with Philipp Lahm, who turns out for the DFB's anti-homophobia initiatives. (Of course, it frequently seems like Lahm's conspicuously the only Bundesliga player who turns out for those things, but at least he's doing his bit.)
posted by hoyland at 7:22 PM on March 4, 2011


Swedish gay footballer.
posted by josher71 at 7:38 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


No one's reading this anymore but here's the Guardian on gay footballers.
posted by josher71 at 7:08 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


More on the gay footballer in the Guardian.
posted by josher71 at 7:53 AM on March 29, 2011


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