Evin Lewis has called West Indies' first-round exit from the T20 World Cup in 2022 "a tough pill to swallow", but says he has moved on and is ready for the inaugural ILT20, where he will represent Sharjah Warriors.
During the T20 World Cup, Lewis had also sustained a hamstring injury, which sidelined him from the Super50, West Indies' premier domestic one-day competition, but he is good to go now.
"Yeah, it [the T20 World Cup] was a tough pill to swallow, to be honest," Lewis told ESPNcricinfo. "I had the help of my family, which was the most important thing. When I came home, I tried not to dwell on it too much. These things can actually hurt you a lot if you go too deep into it. So, I had to give that responsibility to my family and the support that they've been giving me since I reached home… I'm very thankful for that.
"I think I'm in a good space now - both fitness-wise and mentally. I'm happy with the way I'm going about my cricket at the moment. I think Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah - all these are pretty good wickets for batsmen. I think, as batsmen, we have to make the best use of it."
Lewis: 'I see a bit of myself' in Gurbaz
Lewis is particularly excited at the prospect of combining with Rahmanullah Gurbaz at the top of the order for Warriors. Having watched him from close quarters at the CPL - Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batter Gurbaz played for Guyana Amazon Warriors last season - Lewis saw shades of his own attacking style.
"I'm looking forward to batting with him [Gurbaz]," Lewis said. "He's actually a great guy and as everyone knows, he's a very aggressive batsman and probably someone who can take a bit of pressure off you [while] opening the batting. So, I'm looking forward to opening with him.
"I see a bit of myself in him as he's a guy who looks to get on with the game and tries to score as fast as possible in the powerplay to give the team a good start. So, I think that's something teams look forward to as an opening batsman."
Evin Lewis and Rashid Khan were team-mates at St Kitts & Nevis Patriots last season•Getty Images
Lewis has played just 12 T20s in the UAE, returning 260 runs at a strike rate of 142.07, but he believes that his most recent T10 stint with Bangla Tigers in Abu Dhabi and the experience of having faced unorthodox spinners like Rashid Khan and Akila Dananjaya at the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots nets in CPL 2022 will hold him in good stead.
"I haven't played much T20 cricket in UAE, but I think the T10 has actually helped me a lot [to get used to conditions] and how to go about my innings," he said. "You don't have much time in T10, like in T20, but you always need to get a good start for the team, which is important.
"Rashid is someone different when it comes to bowling legspin. I don't think there's anyone who is playing cricket like him at the moment. It's difficult to pick when you're batting [against] him, but I try my best to pick his mind at times; probably try to analyse which ball he's going to bowl when. These guys [Rashid and Dananjaya] are professionals and they go about their games very seriously and I respect them for that."
Lewis: ILT20 'can open the way' for UAE players
In a T20 World Cup warm-up game last year at Junction Oval in Melbourne, UAE made West Indies sweat for victory. Fast bowler Zahoor Khan, who picked up two wickets in that game, turned out for Kandy Falcons in the Lanka Premier League last December. Legspinner Karthik Meiyappan, who bagged a hat-trick in the T20 World Cup proper, will now be Lewis' team-mate at Warriors. Lewis reckons that impactful performances in the ILT20 will open up more opportunities for UAE's local players in franchise cricket.
"Sometimes, we, as batsmen, tend to focus more on strengths than weaknesses and it's something we have to learn to do"
"It would be great for cricket for these guys, playing a huge tournament like this," Lewis says. "People all around the world will see what these guys can do and probably can open the way for them in terms of different franchises, so I think they should use this competition as a stepping stone more or less and just go out there and perform."
Earlier, Lewis was vulnerable to the incoming delivery, with his head often falling over, but he has recently tweaked his stance, which could serve him well on his return to the Emirates.
"Yeah, I've worked on that," he said. "Sometimes, we, as batsmen, tend to focus more on strengths than weaknesses and it's something we have to learn to do. I made a slight change in my batting stance and not trying to shuffle as much. I try to stay as still as possible and I think that has been going quite well for me thus far.
"I haven't worked specifically with anyone on this. I just have a couple of friends - supportive friends who will go with me when I want to hit balls. Throw balls at me, use bowling machines - these guys have been very supportive in this aspect."
Warriors will open their ILT20 campaign against MI Emirates in Abu Dhabi on January 14.