Mick Lewis, the late-blooming fast bowler who became a key member of Victoria's attack and then set an unwanted international record, has announced his retirement. Lewis lost his place in the Victoria line-up late last summer and struggled to regain his position, leading him to quit the game at the age of 33.
"Physically I'm in the best shape of my life but the passion and desire to play at this level is gone," Lewis said. "Training started to become a chore for me.
"I wasn't enjoying training, I was starting to become an unhappy person about playing cricket. Young guys are coming through and I want to do the right thing, step aside and let them take over and let them lead Victoria into the next era."
Lewis collected 277 first-class wickets in a state career that spanned nine seasons, including stints at Durham and Glamorgan, and his pinnacle came when he was a mature-age recruit in the Australia one-day outfit in 2005-06. At 31 Lewis was Australia's oldest ODI debutant since Bob Holland in 1984-85, earning his spot at the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy due to his reputation as a tight bowler at the death.
Initial indications were he would carry that ability onto the international scene, as he delivered a nerveless final over to secure Australia's two-run win in Wellington in his debut match. New Zealand needed only six from the 50th over with two wickets in hand, but Lewis's full-pitched efforts denied them easy runs and he under-armed the final run-out to seal Australia's victory.
However, the 3 for 56 he claimed during that game were his best figures in his seven ODIs and his international career ended with the ignominy of the most expensive analysis by any bowler in a one-day international. The 2005-06 Johannesburg game will be remembered for Australia posting a world record 434 only to be toppled by South Africa, although Lewis said he can now look back and smile about finishing the match with 0 for 113 from ten overs.
But while representing Australia would be the career highlight for most players, Lewis nominated Victoria's 2003-04 Pura Cup triumph as his most memorable moment. The season was an emotional one for the players after their coach David Hookes died two months before the campaign concluded.
Lewis collected 6 for 59 in the second innings of the final as Victoria recorded a 321-run win over Queensland. "Obviously [with] the events of that year, it was pretty hard on us all," Lewis said. "Personally that year just meant so much to me and to come out and win that final just meant everything to me."
The following season he grabbed 38 Pura Cup wickets at 22.05 and found himself with a Cricket Australia contract and a chance to break into the national line-up. His chance came only in limited-overs cricket - he finished as Victoria's leading domestic one-day wicket-taker with 83 victims at 28.53 - and he also played two Twenty20 internationals.
Lewis started his first-class career at 25 after only moving to Melbourne from regional Victoria in his 20s. A fast, accurate and skidding bowler, Lewis added one FR Cup game to his tally in 2007-08, in what was destined to be his final season, although he intends to continue playing at club level in Melbourne.