Swindon's Lewis optimistic about the future following Surrey release
AT 37 YEARS of age, Jon Lewis is preparing for a fresh challenge.
Released by Surrey last week after two years at The Oval, the former England international is currently without a club as he weighs up his options and waits for firm offers to drop through his letterbox.
Lewis is relaxed about the situation. He is confident the right opportunity will present itself in the not-so-distant future, and for now he is more than happy to lay back and not bother himself too much with thoughts of ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’.
With a powerful CV that boasts more than 800 first class wickets, 13 one day international appearances and a Test cap, the Tockenham-based seamer is not a journeyman looking for a final payday.
And after a frustrating period in London, Lewis is keen to take his time to find the right move as he enters the twilight of his playing career.
“I haven’t played much cricket this year but of the cricket I have played, I thought I played good cricket. Sport is a tricky living, a contract can always be ended at any time,” he said.
“You have to always perform to the best of your ability to try to get a renewal. Obviously Surrey haven’t performed very well this year, apart from in the Twenty20, and there’s been a lot of press about the age of the Surrey side.
“I think perhaps I’ve fallen foul of that a little bit, and the fact that I haven’t played any Championship cricket for whatever reason was disappointing.
“I’m disappointed not to have renewed my contract there, but I’m hoping to keep playing or coaching or anything really.”
Lewis has been contacted by clubs in Australia and New Zealand regarding vacant coaching roles over the winter, while he says a handful of County Championship sides have made tentative approaches for his services.
None, however, have yet been followed up by firm offers.
“It’s very similar to football. I have an agent who will put my name around to all the clubs and then we wait for responses,” he said. “I have had some interest from one or two different places but nothing firm, which is great. I feel confident that something will drop in.
“It’s just about what suits me. When I went to Surrey I was very excited about that move and that didn’t work out quite as I had planned it, so I need to make sure this is the right fit for me to finish my playing career and move onwards into coaching with a bit of luck.
“I wouldn’t rule out a return to Gloucestershire. Whether or not that’s the right move for me, I don’t know.
“There are a couple of other places who have also shown some interest, but everything is very much up in the air at the moment and I’m waiting for something firm to come in and then I can really make a decision or push people to make a decision.
“A lot of clubs at the minute are waiting on their budgets for next season. It’s not quite the same as in football where budgets are limitless in certain places.
“The budgets at a lot of clubs are tight and there’s a salary cap on some of the larger clubs. Surrey were very close to their salary cap, whereas someone like Gloucester would be nowhere near it but would have a budget they have to work with.”
Physically, Lewis feels as good as he ever has and he certainly speaks a good game to boot.
The paceman’s theories on leadership and personal development are sage, thought-through and deeper than any modern sporting cliche.
He talks the talk, and he’s confident he can still walk the walk.
“I feel very strong, very fit, I feel that I’ve still got a lot to offer as a senior player in any squad. When I’ve played this year I’ve played well, so I don’t see any reason to stop. I don’t feel like it’s time for me to stop,” he said.
“Everyone I’ve talked to who I’ve played with before and who’s stopped has told me they miss playing and they wish they’d carried on a little longer. Physically I feel great and touch wood I haven’t had an injury for five or six seasons.
“I feel confident I can still play at the level required and that I’ve got a lot to offer in a dressing room as a senior head.”
So all that remains to be asked is what next? Where will Lewis end up next week, next month, next year?
“Obviously I’m a family man, I’ve got a large family and (geography) does matter and it doesn’t. If the right opportunity came, wherever it was in the world, I would really consider it,” he said.
“I’m not sure being close to home is the most important thing because we’re very portable as a family.
“I’ve got a very supportive partner who is always encouraging me to go for the best thing, whatever that is. It’s something we’ll weigh up as a family and think about.
“I’ve had a couple of talks to a couple of people in Australia about doing some coaching out there this winter and New Zealand as well. There’s interest all over the world, it’s just finding the right one at the right price.
“There are a lot of things to consider at this stage, but there’s certainly enough out there to keep me interested, keep me fit, keep me playing and keep me hungry to achieve more.”
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