Chris Lewis, the former England allrounder, has worked in cricket for the first time since his release from prison in June last year having served six years of a 13-year sentence for smuggling liquid cocaine in the UK.
Lewis, who played his last professional match in 2008 after a brief comeback for Surrey at the age of 40, was jailed in May 2009 having been arrested at Gatwick airport on December 2008 with liquid cocaine valued at more than £140,000 hidden in fruit tins in his cricket bag.
He is now using his experiences to educate young players of the importance of planning for life after cricket by working with the Professional Cricketers’ Association. He attended this year’s Rookie Camp – a day organised by the PCA for young county players.
“It has been a long time since I have been around cricket, a lot has happened since I last walked out of the door of a cricket ground so I suppose I wasn’t sure about the reaction I would get,” Lewis said.
“There was a little bit of apprehension about talking about the subject matter which is quite emotive for a lot of people. But I feel good about today. I hope the young guys got a little bit from it. I have spoken to one or two of them and it seems to be something that will perhaps stick in their memory.
“It’s not the kind of story that you forget very easily,” he added. “If it helps the young players here to think they need to plan otherwise they will end up like Chris Lewis then it’s job done.”
Talking after his release from prison last year, Lewis said he had not given serious thought to what he would do once his cricket career ended.
“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 made choices that I shouldn’t have made and that were the wrong choices and that, in the end. I should say sorry for because they were the wrong choices, and I do say sorry for.”
Lewis was appearing alongside Mervyn Westfield, the former Essex bowler, who was jailed for his role in spot-fixing and has worked regularly with the PCA since his release from prison, while former England paceman Simon Jones also spoke about his experiences during and after his playing career.