Watch: NZ Cricket Star Heath Davis Comes Out

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday August 2, 2022

Heath Davis
Heath Davis  (Source:Screenshot/Daily Mail)

More than two decades after retiring from cricket, Heath Davis — legendary for the speed at which he threw balls — has come out, making him the first male New Zealand player in the sport to do so, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.

"Davis, 50, played five Tests and 11 one-day internationals for the Black Caps between 1994 and 1997 and was known as an intimidating, if inconsistent, pace bowler," The Guardian recalled.

Davis was interviewed as part of a documentary series titled "Scratched: Aotearoa's Lost Sporting Legends" (Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand). He recalled knowing from childhood that he was gay and even coming out to his mother as a boy, but it wasn't until he was playing cricket professionally and had traveled with his team to England that he started to explore, The Guardian recounted.

"I went to a few bars and things privately, just to see what life was like," Davis says in the documentary episode. "You're on the other side of the world, no one's going to know you."

Davis sought companionship in London's gay Soho, UK newspaper the Daily Mail recounted. "It was lonely going to saunas and seedy places to get sex because you didn't want to be seen," the newspaper quoted Davis saying in the doc.

"I was repressing it," Davis adds, "I wasn't leading a gay life."

"I certainly wasn't living a gay life, wasn't part of the scene, didn't have a partner," Davis goes on to say in the doc.

That changed when Davis was 27 and began a relationship with another man. But the couple kept their status discreet. The couple moved to Auckland, where Davis made a point of coming out to his teammates, though he was still in the closet publicly.

"I was sick of hiding it," the cricketer says. "There was this part of my life I needed to express." His teammates didn't care, or at least didn't give Davis any problems about being gay, "aside from a bit of petty shit from young guys in the team."

Davis retired from pro cricket, but remains involved in coaching. He lost part of his left foot in a workplace accident after moving to Brisbane, but, reports said, he made light of it: "I had to get rid of it, I couldn't stand stepping over the line anymore," Davis joked, citing his tendency to put a foot over the line, resulting in a "no ball" — and an extra run for the opposition's tally.

The doc's producer, Madeleine Chapman, predicted that Davis' coming out will be embraced by, and serves as an example for, young athletes today.

"I think other athletes, particularly young athletes being able to see that sort of honesty and vulnerability be warmly accepted by readers and viewers can only be encouraging," Chapman said.

Davis' emergence from the closet follows several other notable athletes coming out recently, including Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo, British soccer player Jake Daniels, and top-ranked Russian tennis star Daria Kasatkina.

Watch a brief clip of Davis' interview from the documentary below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.