FORMER England all-rounder Chris Lewis admitted that severe worries stirred by the conclusion of his playing career led him down a path which culminated in him being jailed for drug smuggling.
The 47-year-old was released from prison yesterday after serving less than half of his 13-year sentence, having been convicted in May 2009 of smuggling more than £140,000 worth of cocaine into Britain.
Lewis, who cited financial concerns as a principal motivating factor, and former basketball player Chad Kimon were both found guilty of carrying a liquid form of cocaine into Gatwick Airport on a flight from St Lucia in 2008.
“I became afraid of what the future held and at that point the thinking actually went awry,” said Lewis.
“You are playing cricket, perhaps even hoping to get back into the England team, and within the space of a few months it’s actually all over. I made choices. They were the wrong choices and I say sorry for them.
“On a physical level jail has not been hard. It’s a hard mental exercise to stop yourself thinking negatively. For 24 hours a day you’re a prisoner. It’s nice to be back, and I don’t mean being outside. I mean back being me.”
Guyana-born Lewis claimed 93 wickets and averaged 23 with the bat during a six-year international career, having made his Test debut in 1990 against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
He also made 189 first-class career appearances for Leicestershire, Surrey and Nottinghamshire, playing his last in 2000, while an attempted return for Surrey’s Twenty20 side in 2008 was hindered by a hip injury.
“There wasn’t a great deal of information around then for young players about what they should be doing or trying to do,” added Lewis, who served his sentence at High Down prison in Surrey. “Yes, you heard the stories about having to plan for your future because cricket doesn’t last forever but what does that mean?”