Birmingham is set to host a piece of sporting history this month when two LGBTQ+ cricket teams face each other for the first ever time.
The Birmingham Unicorns will take to the field against Graces for a 40-over game at Weoley Hill Oval, in front of supporters, on May 23.
Graces, founded in 1996, were the world’s only inclusive cricket club until Lachlan Smith recently decided to form his own LGBTQ+ club in the Second City.
The game between the two sides was set in January.
Smith said: “There is a sense of excitement, but I’m also slightly terrified.
“It’s quite overwhelming as it’s a special occasion but whatever happens on the day, it is a great opportunity to celebrate a historic occasion.
“Hopefully both clubs can encourage other LGBTQ+ members to participate in the sport but ultimately, it will be a very proud moment for both clubs.”
The highly-anticipated fixture is the Unicorns inaugural game, and Smith believes playing the only other LGBTQ+ cricket club is an appropriate way to kickstart the club.
“When I had the idea to start an LGBTQ+ team here in Birmingham, I reached out to Graces to get advice, support, and resources,” said Smith.
“They have been fantastic in supporting us, and in our regular conversations we had with each other, we thought that the Unicorns first ever fixture could be against them.
“As things have evolved, it will be the first game of it’s nature. As a team we recognise that undoubtedly, it will be a tough first assignment for us. The majority of their players have played cricket for decades while we are putting out a team that have some players who are almost brand new to the sport.
“The odds are stacked against us but we’ll give it our best shot and what would be a better way to start than taking on Graces and beating them.”
The historical fixture has received some criticism across social media and The England and Wales Cricket board, who have been influential in organising the logistics surrounding the day, have expressed their disappointment about the negative reaction that the announcement has received.
ECB communications manager Henry Cowen said: “Social media can be a difficult place and there’s clearly progress that needs to be made in making it a less hostile platform.
“We can’t pretend there are any easy answers, I think it’s a society-wide problem, but from what I understand social media companies are keen to help solve the issue.”
“It’s a really positive day for cricket and we’re excited. The credit belongs to Graces CC and Unicorns CC. It’s been their hard work, and I hope that they will still be able to enjoy the day.”
Smith expected some negative reaction but believes it reiterates the importance of the fixture taking place.
“I always expected some negative response however, it just emphasises why this fixture needs to be played.
“It would be great if we got to a society where there doesn’t need to be LGBTQ+ specific clubs but both Unicorns and Graces recognise that this is a positive step forward – it’s all about being inclusive rather than exclusive.”