Players from LGBTQ+ cricket club Birmingham Unicorns picked up some professional coaching tips as Warwickshire invited them to a net session at Edgbaston.

Bears First Team Coach Mark Robinson, Bowling Coach Stuart Barnes and players Liam Norwell and Chris Rushworth spent time honing the squad’s batting and bowling skills at the Edgbaston Cricket Centre.

Warwickshire and the Unicorns – who are one of only two LGBTQ+ clubs in the country – have developed a strong partnership since the Lapworth-based side launched in 2020.

Chair Lachlan Smith said having proactive allies in cricket makes a huge difference in how the LGBTQ+ community perceives the sport and their willingness to get involved.

He added: “We’ve developed a brilliant partnership with Warwickshire and are incredibly grateful for the club’s support, including proving opportunities for members to receive high-quality coaching. 

“The nets session was fantastic. Many of our players struggle with bowling so it was helpful to get advice on bowling action and practice drills. There’s also the temptation for inexperienced players try and hit every single ball so to get tips on which balls to leave and shot selection was also invaluable.

“We’re really encouraged by how the club has grown with many people taking up cricket for the first time. We now have a playing squad of 30 ranging from those who are new to the game to others who’ve played league cricket.

“Eventually we would like to enter a team in a competitive league but at the moment we are focused on growing the club sustainably and making sure members have the best cricket experience possible.”

Birmingham Unicorns play home games at Lapworth Cricket Club and train every week in Weoley Hill.

Last season they played 16 games against local league sides but also faced up in friendlies against fellow LGBTQ+ club Graces, from London, West Midlands Police, and Warwickshire County Council and the English Cricket Association for the Deaf. 

And Warwickshire is working with the Unicorns to host the country’s first ever LGBTQ+ cricket festival and competition in the summer including invited teams representing several first class counties.

Robinson said: “As a Club we’re committed to inclusion in all areas. I’m delighted the Unicorns are going from strength to strength and we’ll continue to do whatever we can to help them grow and introduce more LGBT players and spectators to cricket.

“We enjoyed the nets session. It’s always great to work with people who are clearly so passionate about the game and improving their skills. I hope we were able to equip them with some tips to take into their 2023 season.”

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