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May 20, 2009
The former England seamer, Angus Fraser, has reacted with sadness to the news that his former team-mate, Chris Lewis, has been convicted of drug smuggling, and believes that the case should send a warning to modern-day players of the dangers of being drawn into the trappings of fame.
Lewis, 41, was sentenced to 13 years in prison by Croydon Crown Court after being found guilty of smuggling cocaine into the country on a flight from St Lucia. He was arrested at Gatwick Airport in December, along with a friend, Chad Kirnon, when customs officials found five cans of fruit juice in his luggage in which cocaine had been dissolved.
"It's very, very sad," Fraser told Cricinfo. "I suppose this highlights how difficult it can be for players to cope once they stop playing cricket. They get used to a lifestyle and a certain standard of living, and a lot of cricketers don't plan for what to do when they stop playing.
"As a person, Chris liked the nice things in life, the clothes and the cars, but once his playing days were over, his means of income was reduced. He needed the money and it appears he got dragged into something like this. It's very sad."
Fraser, who is currently Middlesex's Director of Cricket, having completed a six-year stint as the cricket correspondent of The Independent, played alongside Lewis when he was drafted in as a late replacement for the injured Ricardo Ellcock on England's tour of the Caribbean in 1989-90. The pair were England team-mates, on and off, for the next five years.
"I always had a lot of time for him," said Fraser. "He copped a lot of stick in his playing days, and in the last few years, but he was always polite and friendly to my family, and I enjoyed his company. And he was certainly the best athlete I played cricket with, that's for sure.
"But he was a pretty complex character on the cricket field. He had the potential to bowl extremely fast, and the potential to score Test hundreds, but he was one of those players who only achieved a percentage of what he could have achieved.
"Why there was such inconsistency to his performances, I don't think anyone has ever got to the bottom of that. There are some blokes who just get on with it and bowl through a bit of discomfort, but Chris was very aware of his body. Some people just expect to be fit 100% of the time."