Former England cricketer on cocaine smuggling charge

Chris Lewis arrested after 4kg of drug allegedly found in his luggage at Gatwick
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The Independent Online

The former England cricketer Chris Lewis has been charged with trying to smuggle £200,000 of liquid cocaine through Gatwick. Mr Lewis, a fast bowler who played in 32 Test matches and 53 one-day internationals, was arrested after 4kg of cocaine was allegedly found in fruit tins in his luggage, as he arrived on a flight from St Lucia.

The basketball player Chad Kirnon, 26, was also detained. The pair, both from north London – Mr Lewis from Brent, Mr Kirnon from Islington – arrived together on the 6am flight and were interrogated by Customs officials. Mr Lewis was to appear at Crawley magistrates' court yesterday but was remanded in custody until 17 December, when he will appear via video-link from Mid-Sussex magistrates' court.

Born in Guyana, Mr Lewis played cricket for Nottinghamshire, Surrey and Leicestershire, and sporadically opened the bowling for England during the 1990s after making his Test debut against New Zealand in 1990.

Capable of bowling at more than 90mph with his high, fluid action, his mercurial talent came on to the radar of English selectors at the end of a two-decade period in which world cricket was dominated by legendary, tall West Indian fast bowlers such as Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts.

Mr Lewis's batting talent – he scored nine first-class hundreds in his career – led to his labouring for years (like many other men before and since) under the banner of "the next Ian Botham". He was labelled "The Pratt without a Hat" by a red-top newspaper after sunstroke forced him from the field during England's 1994 tour of the West Indies. He had shaved his head before the game but forgotten to put on any suncream.

He left professional cricket in 2000 with a persistent hip injury, claiming to have been driven out of the game after alleging that three England team mates had taken bribes to throw matches. The charges were never substantiated. Instead, Mr Lewis became a marginalised figure on the county scene and retired at the age of 32.