A local lad
Jason Lewry was born in Worthing on April 2, 1971 and played for Sussex from the beginning of his career in 1994. Sussex scouts had seen him playing for Goring in 1993 and within a year he was making his debut for Sussex. He was a one club man, in a career that spanned sixteen years until his retirement in 2009. In his first season Lewry took 47 wickets, bowling over 300 overs and topping the county’s averages, which he also did the following season. Very early in his career he was reckoned to be one of the best left arm fast-medium swing bowlers in the country and a possible candidate for international honours. |His consistency made him an important part of Sussex’s success in its golden years, playing a valuable role in the club’s three championship victories. Unfortunately, Lewry was constantly plagued by injuries, particularly to his lower back, and he missed the whole of the 1997 season.
Part of the most potent partnership in county cricket
On his return to cricket in 1998, Lewry took a hat-trick against Gloucestershire with the wicket of Michael Smith to end Gloucestershire’s first innings and then took two wickets with his first two balls of Gloucestershire’s second innings. That year he and James Kirtley formed one of the most potent opening bowling partnerships in English cricket with Lewry taking 62 wickets at 22.72. He was selected for England’s A party on the winter tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa although that did not go particularly well for after just two matches he had a troublesome shoulder that required surgery. He had also suffered from home sickness, knee problems and food poisoning. He would never play for England again and when Ryan Sidebottom was chosen ahead of him for the England team in 2001, that signalled the end of his England career.
Lewry discussed a move away from Sussex with Nottinghamshire and Hampshire in 1999 but decided to stay with Sussex. The truth of the matter was that he was never really tempted and had he not been able to play for Sussex he probably would have retired from first class cricket then and there.
Lewry missed the first seven weeks of the following season but came back strongly with 56 wickets including a match winning 7 for 38 against Derbyshire. Lewry continued to take wickets over the following two seasons in harness with Kirtley, and in the match against Hampshire at Hove in July 2001, completely demolished the opposition. After taking 6 for 37 in the first innings, he got a hat trick in the second innings taking five wickets in seven balls, six in ten balls, and then seven in thirteen balls. His hat-trick was the first Sussex hat-trick for twenty years. Only Pat Pocock of Surrey had bettered this in county cricket.
A major part in Sussex winning the championship in 2003
In 2002 Lewry was given a Benefit Year. The following year Lewry played a major part in Sussex winning the championship for the first time with Lewry taking 8 for 106, with a massive hangover, in the championship deciding match against Leicestershire, the last match of the season. Lewry had played every match and taken 42 wickets.
Injury limited his appearances between 2004 and 2008 to just eight games but in the championship winning season of 2008 Lewry was the team’s leading wicket taker with 41 wickets. For the 2009 season, Lewry signed to play only the championship games. In an interview given to the Argus on his retirement he said: “I had a shoulder injury and couldn’t throw for three months so (former coach) Peter Moores told me I wasn’t going to play in the one-day team. I couldn’t get back in the side and decided I didn’t want to play one-dayers anymore. Lewry retired in 2009 and went back to the club where it had all started, Goring where he continued to play.
No-one to match him in sultry conditions
In sultry conditions there was no-one to match him, and with the late swing he got with the new ball, he often took the wickets of the opening batsmen in the first few overs to give Sussex an excellent psychological advantage. He can consider himself unlucky not to have played for England but as he said “If I had been good enough I would have played. I felt I had the ability but I would never have been strong enough to cope with the pressure of stepping up to the next level. “I don’t like travelling or being away from home for long – Manchester is long enough away for me. I found my level at Sussex and was happy with that.”
Sussex record 1994-2009
First class matches
Batting/fielding 184M 243In 66No 1817R 72Hs 10.26ave 52ct
Bowling 5243Ov 1159Ma 16627R 613W 8-106 27.12ave
Batting/fielding 11M 4In 1 No 10 R 8Hs Ave3.33 4ct
Bowling 32.5O 0Ma 239 R 14W 3-34 17.07Ave