County news February 16, 2016

Chris Lewis talks about prison time to educate youngsters

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Archive: Chris Lewis speaks after his release from prison in June 2015

Chris Lewis, the former England allrounder, has worked in cricket for the first time since his release from prison in June last year having served six years of a 13-year sentence for smuggling liquid cocaine in the UK.

Lewis, who played his last professional match in 2008 after a brief comeback for Surrey at the age of 40, was jailed in May 2009 having been arrested at Gatwick airport on December 2008 with liquid cocaine valued at more than £140,000 hidden in fruit tins in his cricket bag.

He is now using his experiences to educate young players of the importance of planning for life after the cricket by working with the Professional Cricketers' Association. He attended this year's Rookie Camp - a day organised by the PCA for young county players.

"It has been a long time since I have been around cricket, a lot has happened since I last walked out of the door of a cricket ground so I suppose I wasn't sure about the reaction I would get," Lewis said.

"There was a little bit of apprehension about talking about the subject matter which is quite emotive for a lot of people. But I feel good about today. I hope the young guys got a little bit from it. I have spoken to one or two of them and it seems to be something that will perhaps stick in their memory.

"It's not the kind of story that you forget very easily," he added. "If it helps the young players here to think they need to plan otherwise they will end up like Chris Lewis then it's job done."

Talking after his release from prison last year, Lewis said he had not given serious thought to what he would do once his cricket career ended.

"You try different things to try to generate cash. You are not talking about the same level of cash as when you played. You are talking about a level of cash that, now you are living a normal life - to sort that out. Coming back to play T20 for Surrey, that didn't work and at the same time the old hips played up.

"I had spent a bit of money. I had been away to Australia to train to try to get fit to come back to do the Twenty20 so money had been spent and nothing had been earned. I became afraid of what the future held and at that point the thinking actually went awry.

"I made choices that I shouldn't have made and that were the wrong choices and that, in the end. I should say sorry for because they were the wrong choices, and I do say sorry for."

Lewis was appearing alongside Mervyn Westfield, the former Essex bowler, who was jailed for his role in spot-fixing and has worked regularly with the PCA since his release from prison, while former England paceman Simon Jones also spoke about his experiences during and after his playing career.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arif on February 18, 2016, 15:00 GMT

    I wish him all the best. Hope, he can put all this behind him and move forward. Good luck mate

  • Jason on February 18, 2016, 7:30 GMT

    I think the support the PCA has given Chris Lewis & Mervyn Westfield has been brilliant... hopefully their experiences & new found wisdom helps others avoid a similar fate. Remember these guys are born with a sporting talent NOT necessarily one that helps them elsewhere and when that talent & career have finished.

  •   Yasir Akhtar on February 18, 2016, 3:37 GMT

    I hope people still remember that Chris Lewis wicket was Wasim Akram 2nd in World Cup 1992 Final

  • praveen on February 17, 2016, 22:21 GMT

    Wow, can't believe it's been 6 years since the incident! I hope Lewis makes good use of this second chance and lives a trouble free life hereafter.

  • Bob on February 17, 2016, 19:49 GMT

    For a guy who could have contrbuted so much to youth cricket since his retirement, 6 years for smuggling a natural plant derivative is harsh punishment. He's served his time and I look forward to him serving in a profesional capacity for a big club soon.

  • Ian on February 17, 2016, 14:11 GMT

    @JOHN-PRICE I'm sure you can get fit in England. It was probably more pleasurable but a lot more expensive to spend time in Oz and I think he is citing it as one of the poor decisions he took.

  • Paul on February 17, 2016, 14:00 GMT

    @ John-Price. Winter in the UK is often too wet to do anything outside (well it's often wet. We have dry winters now and then but you can't guarantee anything) Training is so much better on grass. As a bowler my indoor form and grass form are poles apart and the muscle work out I get outside, on grass feels and seems so completely different from the workout you get indoors or in the gym. Even netting for 10 weeks indoors prior to season start doesn't prepare yourself for the first real game.

  • John on February 17, 2016, 13:00 GMT

    "I had been away to Australia to train to try to get fit to come back to do the Twenty20..." Can't you get fit in England?

  •   Richardson Mzaidume on February 17, 2016, 7:03 GMT

    There's nothing that beats formal education and tertiary qualifications. Daniel Harris is a doctor. Former SA wicketkeeper and current ICC CEO and Steve Elworthy have proved that it can be done. Players like Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Saeed Anwar, Misbah Ul Haq, Sohaib Maqsood and many others have combined studies with cricket and succeeded. It can be done. Right now, many South African soccer players are falling into the same trap of living celebrity lifestyle during playing career and become paupers once their last playing contract runs out.

  • Amit on February 17, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    Good for him that's he's sharing his experience with the youngster. It's easy to forget that a lot of young kids are not mature enough to save for future when times are good and then get in trouble when their skills deteriorate and don't have money saved and no other skills to generate money.

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