The curse of the British weather — Unicorns v Graces
After months of planning, yesterday was going to be a massive day for the LGBTQ+ cricketing community.
My new LGBTQ+ inclusive club, Birmingham Unicorns, were set to take on Graces Cricket Club from London in the first-ever fully inclusive LGBTQ+ cricket match anywhere in the world. Our hosts, Weoley Hill Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and various media organisations were ready to get the game on.
But, and there is always a but when playing cricket in England, we needed the weather to be kind. For weeks cricket has been washed out with heavier than usual rainfall during May. To get a game of cricket on, you need a dry day, but you also need time to prepare the ground in advance; the torrential downpours we have experienced made that impossible. With the forecast for Sunday being poor, we decided to postpone the game.
The rain came down hard — it was the right decision!
Postponing a world first is not something you do lightly. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, this game was a key date in the diary; it was the chance to take all the talking and planning and put it into action, to make cricket more inclsuive.
We are now working hard to secure a new date in June. The weather gods tell us we will have better luck then!
Over the weekend, many of the Graces team travelled to Birmingham despite the cancellation; the accommodation and travel arrangements had been finalised weeks in advance after all. This gave players from both teams the opportunity to meet and get to know each other better before we take to the field in battle in June.
Sharing experiences and meeting face to face instead of via Zoom or Teams was amazing. Everybody loved it with bonds quickly being formed. It highlighted the power of the two clubs and the energy that we have, a synergy and excitement that feeds off each other.
Some players were a little worse for wear after a night of partying Saturday, a reflection on a good night had by all. As they say though, what happens on tour stays on tour!
Next time, when we hope to get out on the cricket pitch, perhaps there might be a little less partying.
Before we postponed the match late last week, I spoke to several journalists about the game, what it means to LGBTQ+ cricket players and supporters and why it has taken so long to establish a second inclusive club. These questions are perhaps better left for another blog piece, but I think it is important to briefly explore why both clubs are thriving.
I don’t believe that cricket is a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic sport, but this does not mean it is an inclusive sport. The number of members who have engaged with the Unicorns and Graces who have never engaged with other cricket clubs is telling. People want a place to come, knowing they won’t be judged, and enjoy trying the sport. Both clubs provide that outlet. Not everyone needs this outlet or environment to thrive, but many LGBTQ+ who have had bad experiences in sport and life do. They need a bridge into the sport, and we are learning how best to be that bridge. We are evolving and improvingas we go, but I believe we have made a difference already.
We have started to change the narrative.
Roll on June, sunnier days and games of cricket.