Evin Lewis called West Indies’ first round exit from the T20 World Cup in 2022 a “hard pill to swallow”, but says he has moved on and is ready for the inaugural ILT20, where he will represent the Sharjah Warriors.
During the T20 World Cup, Lewis also suffered a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the Super50, the West Indies’ premier domestic one-day competition, but he is ready to go now.
“Yeah, that [the T20 World Cup] was a tough pill to swallow, to be honest,” Lewis told ESPNcricinfo. “I had the help of my family, which was the most important thing. When I got home, I tried not to dwell on it too much. These things can actually hurt you a lot if you go too deep. So, I had to pass this responsibility on to my family and the support they have given me since I returned home… I am very grateful for that.
“I think I’m in a good space now – both physically and mentally. I’m happy with the way I’m doing at cricket at the moment. I think Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah – all of that is pretty good wickets for batsmen. I think as drummers we have to make the best use of it.
Lewis is particularly excited about combining with Rahmanullah Gurbaz at the top of the Warriors order. After watching him closely at the CPL – Afghan wicket-striker Gurbaz played for the Guyana Amazon Warriors last season – Lewis has seen nuances of his own attacking style.
“I can’t wait to fight with him [Gurbaz]”, said Lewis. “He’s actually a great guy and as everyone knows he’s a very aggressive batsman and probably someone who can take the pressure off you a bit. [while] open the stick. So, I can’t wait to open with him.
“I see myself in him a bit because he’s a guy who tries to keep the game going and tries to score as quickly as possible on the power play to give the team a good start. So I think it’s something teams are looking forward to. as an opening drummer.”
Lewis played just 12 T20s in the United Arab Emirates, returning 260 carries at a strike rate of 142.07, but he believes his last spell in T10s with the Bangla Tigers in Abu Dhabi and the experience of having faced unorthodox spinners like Rashid Khan and Akila Dananjaya to net for the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in CPL 2022 will hold him in good stead.
“I haven’t played much T20 cricket in UAE but I think T10 has helped me a lot [to get used to conditions] and how to manage my sleeves,” he said. “You don’t have a lot of time in T10, like in T20, but you still have to get a good start for the team, which is important.
“Rashid is a different person when it comes to bowling. I don’t think there’s anyone playing cricket like him right now. It’s hard to choose when you’re at bat. [against] him, but I try my best to choose his mind sometimes; probably trying to analyze which ball he’s going to play when. These guys [Rashid and Dananjaya] are professionals and they play their games very seriously and I respect them for that.”
In a T20 World Cup warm-up match last year at Junction Oval in Melbourne, the United Arab Emirates made West Indies sweat for victory. Fast bowler Zahoor Khan, who took two wickets in that game, came on for the Kandy Falcons in the Lanka Premier League last December. Legspinner Karthik Meiyappan, who scored a hat-trick in the T20 World Cup proper, will now be Lewis’ teammate at Warriors. Lewis believes that the impactful performances of the ILT20 will open up more opportunities for local UAE players in franchise cricket.
“Sometimes as drummers we tend to focus more on strengths than weaknesses and that’s something we have to learn to do”
“It would be great for cricket for these guys, to play a huge tournament like this,” Lewis said. “People around the world will see what these guys can do and can probably pave the way for them in terms of different franchises, so I think they should use this competition as a stepping stone more or less and just go out there and play . “
Previously, Lewis was vulnerable to the inbound delivery with his header often dropping, but he has changed his stance recently which could well serve him when he returns to the Emirates.
“Yeah, I worked on that,” he said. “Sometimes as batsmen we tend to focus more on strengths than weaknesses and that’s something we have to learn to do. I’ve changed my batting stance slightly and I’m not trying to shuffle as much. I try to stay as still as possible and I think it’s been going pretty well for me so far.
“I haven’t worked with anyone specifically on this. I just have a few friends – friends who support me when I want to hit balls. Throw balls at me, use bowling machines – these guys have been very supportive in that aspect.”
The Warriors will open their ILT20 campaign against MI Emirates in Abu Dhabi on January 14.
. Evin Lewis says early release World Cup T20 des Antilles summer a pill difficult swallow