Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chris Lewis on life after cricket... and prison

Chris Lewis was one of many players christened "the next Ian Botham" to play for England in his era. Unlike most of them, he was an extremely talented cricketer.

That he played 32 tests and 53 one-day internationals and still left behind the feeling that he had not made the most of his talents is a tribute to just how apparent those talents were.

He was a lively opening bowler and a late order batsman who was good enough to score a test century. The video here shows him hitting his first test fifty.

In 2009 he was jailed for 13 years after being caught smuggling drugs. He was released last summer after serving six of them.

He is the subject of a long article in today's Leicester Mercury, which takes in his work talking to young players for the Professional Cricketers' Association:
Today is Tuesday and Tuesday means Nottingham and Trent Bridge. Fifteen grounds done, four more to go (that's 18 clubs and the MCC). Chris Lewis is visiting every one, every first class ground in country and talking to the nation's aspiring young cricketers about life, sport and all the bits in between they don't really think abut. 
"Because I didn't think about it, when I was their age," he says. "I know I didn't. I want to tell them that the decisions they take now, the things they do today, can have a bearing on the rest of their lives." 
Sometimes, it makes little difference. He knows that. Sometimes, when you're speaking to a room full of 19- and 20-year-olds who all think they know best, it's hard to get through, to break the veneer of brio and swagger. 
"But sometimes, it gets through, you know, and you can see that you've reached them," he says.
I wish Chris Lewis well. As I blogged when he was convicted:
My favourite memory of Lewis is seeing him in the nets at Grace Road (Leicestershire's county ground) with a queue of boys waiting to bowl to him. 
Not many test players would bother to do that.

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