Image courtesy of: The Guardian
Former England all-rounder Chris Lewis has revealed that he will work with the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) after he was released from prison on Tuesday.
Lewis, who represented England in 32 Tests and 53 ODIs, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for drug smuggling in May 2009.
He was found guilty of smuggling liquid cocaine in fruit juice tins from St Lucia to England, but was released after serving only six years of his sentence.
“It’s actually nice to be back and by back, I don’t mean being outside – I mean back by being me,” Lewis told Sky Sports. “You would think that perhaps I would be apprehensive. I am excited.
“Keep cricket fun. You learn more when you are having fun, you play better when you are having fun. The stuff that may take away your smile just isn’t as important as it seems now.
“Take the advice that is available now through the PCA. There have been enough people who have gone through this journey that there is decent advice for young cricketers to take care of their money, to take care of the things that they need to take care of themselves but most of all to have fun. You don’t know how far you can go. The world’s your oyster.
“The PCA has been extremely supportive from the beginning of this situation. They have been extremely helpful and certainly, going ahead, I would like to become a part of that, whether it’s giving advice or whether it’s just tugging on the grey matter to find out what happened at this particular time.
“If any of that can help any young player going ahead I am in. I am in 100 per cent.”
Lewis, who worked for the local council in Nottingham and also coached in Slough when he retired in 2000, admitted that some poor decision on his part led to him spending six years behind bars.
“You are playing cricket, perhaps even hoping to get back into the England team, and within the space of a few months, it’s all over,” he said. “There wasn’t a great deal of information around for young players about what they should be doing or trying to do. Yes, you heard the stories about having to plan for your future because cricket doesn’t last forever but what does that mean?
“At the time, I thought that planning was taking out a pension or taking out a life insurance which are things that I actually did. Standing here now, you know planning is a lot more and it takes a lot more time and effort.
“I left in a huff so the idea of missing cricket just didn’t happen. At the time I left, I wanted to leave because it wasn’t a happy environment. I worked for the council in Nottingham, I did a bit of stuff with coaching in Slough. We had a bit of a cricket academy.
“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 thought about things and made choices that I shouldn’t have made and that were the wrong choices and that, in the end. I should say sorry because they were the wrong choices, and I do say sorry for.”