<
>

Maia Lewis back with enthusiasm renewed in Wellington

Times were when former New Zealand women's cricket captain Maia Lewis had the cricket world at her feet.

And then her knees gave out.

An attacking player, who looked set to unite with the likes of Debbie Hockley and Emily Drumm to give New Zealand one of the great middle-order batting units of all time, she disappeared around the time of her injuries and, understandably, lost motivation.

But all has not been lost.

Lewis is back in Wellington and working as a cricket co-ordinator for Cricket Wellington and looking to revive her cricket career at the age of 32.

"I'm feeling really good. My injuries are over and I'm fitter than I've been for a long time," she said.

Lewis has had an ACL reconstruction and during the dark days with her injuries she had arthroscopies on both knees.

"I realised around that time that cricket was not the be-all and end-all in life and it was nice to have a couple of normal Christmases for a change," she said.

However, the competitive streak began to surface again, initially on the indoor cricket scene.

"I had a couple of good indoor cricket seasons. I played in the New Zealand team last year in a series against Australia and was in the New Zealand team at the recent World Cup."

Lewis started last season living in Whangarei, playing her club cricket in Auckland but playing for Wellington in the State League.

In eight innings, with two not outs, she totalled 130 runs at 21.66, a low return by her own standards, but the threat is that if she regains some of her former touches she will further extend her career average of 33.65.

Of all the current players who have played 10 or more matches in the State League competition, only Drumm (47.78), Paula Flannery (34.20), Nicola Payne (37.43) and Megan Tyler (36.94) have better averages.

For the moment, however, Lewis is looking no further ahead than working and performing with the State Wellington Blaze.

Wellington are blooding quite a few new players and Lewis' experience will be vital in building the side.

She does so with her only regret from her earlier cricket career being a feeling that he has never achieved her full potential.

"I feel I am batting a bit better now. I'm more mature and playing more of my natural game. When I was playing before I was a bit robotic and I lost a lot of my natural game and I have regrets that I didn't achieve what I might have done," she said.

So far this season she has had one match for her Naenae club against Eastern Suburbs in Wellington in which she made 50 not out while in the Central Districts competition, she has been captaining the young Wairarapa side and last weekend had scores of 47 and 78 for them.

The Wellington scene is much healthier with a good core of players having to fight over places in the representative side. The side will still be a young one with most of the players between 17-23 years, with eight of the squad also in the Under-21 squad. But players were getting opportunities a little earlier than had previously been the case.

They were getting exposed to tougher cricket earlier, and while college cricket numbers have diminished, there are more school players in the senior competition. Seven teams are competing in the women's senior competition this summer.

Wellington are also running a Super 8 competition in which 11 teams are entered. In a bid to attract more people to the game, who haven't the time to make a greater time commitment there will be a twilight competition played in mid-week of 16 overs-a-side to start on January 12.