Warwickshire Cricket is celebrating Pride Month by organising the country’s first ever national LGBTQ+ cricket tournament.
Teams representing five professional county clubs – Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Middlesex and Northamptonshire – will compete in a round-robin event at Sutton Coldfield CC on Sunday (11 June).
There are only two LGBTQ+ cricket clubs in the UK – including Lapworth-based Birmingham Unicorns – and it’s hoped the inaugural competition will encourage participation across the Network.
Warwickshire and the Unicorns have developed a strong partnership since the side formed in 2020 and squad members have benefitted from coaching sessions at Edgbaston’s indoor centre from Bears’ staff and players.
Unicorns’ Chair Lachlan Smith – whose side will represent Warwickshire in the event – said: “Having proactive allies in cricket makes a huge difference in how the LGBTQ+ community perceives the sport and their willingness to get involved.
“Visibility is hugely important: through our partnership with Warwickshire and fantastic events like this we can show what an inclusive sport cricket is and encourage more LGBTQ+ people to get involved.
“We’ve seen our membership grow significantly in the last couple of years, from beginners to those who’ve played league cricket, and we hope to keep growing. At present we play a series of friendly matches but we hope to eventually enter a local league.”
The tournament will be a hardball competition with eight-a-side teams competing in T10 matches before the top two sides play off in the grand final.
Professional umpires, including Women’s World T20 and the Hundred umpire Sue Redfern, will take charge of the matches.
Warwickshire Cricket Board Cricket Development Officer, Richard Evans, helped organise the competition. He said: “It promises to be a great occasion and another step in our mission to make cricket as open and accessible sport as possible.
“It will be fun festival of cricket with pink balls, rainbow stumps, and teams in their colourful Vitality Blast county kits.
“I’m grateful to Sutton Coldfield Cricket Club for hosting, they have been integral in pulling everything together and their ground is a fine venue for this historic event.
“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 LGBTQ+ players and spectators to cricket.”
The event will also act as a fundraiser for Staffordshire-based No Boundaries Cricket Club – which helps disadvantaged children through cricket initiatives – and the Birmingham LGBT charity.
Matches start at Sutton Coldfield CC from 11am on Sunday with the final expected to start at around 6pm. Everyone is welcome and it’s free to attend.