Surrey County Cricket Club were saddened to recently learn of the loss of Roy Lewis, who died last month following a short illness, aged 73.
Below, Richard Spiller pays tribute to Roy, a County Championship winner for the Club in 1971.
Roy Lewis was to play an important role in Surrey winning the County Championship in 1971. All through the previous decade, those playing for the county had been forced to live in the shadow of the all-conquering team which had won seven titles in a row in the 1950s. Following such an achievement was all but impossible and the closest the side had come to silverware was reaching the Gillette Cup final in 1965.
But in 1971 Micky Stewart’s men made a late dash to the Championship despite the frequent absences of leading batsman John Edrich, away playing six Tests for England.
Lewis, who had made his first-class debut three years earlier, finished fifth in Surrey’s averages, his seven appearances yielding 233 runs at 25 with a highest score of 50. That came in a low-scoring encounter at Guildford, where Worcestershire were dismissed for 163 on a rain-affected pitch. Batting conditions were still difficult when Surrey replied, Lewis’s half-century supporting Younis Ahmed, who made 73 as Surrey claimed a vital lead of 37. That proved essential in the county going on to win by nine wickets, Lewis adding an unbeaten 26 in the second innings.
Overall Lewis played 38 first-class and 14 one-day games for Surrey between 1968 and 1973, his habit of speaking his mind to administrators perhaps proving detrimental to more regular selection. Deputising for established players called away on international duty and then dropping out when they return is difficult for any player, and Lewis made it clear he did not appreciate it.
In club cricket, Lewis ensured Spencer CC were one of the leading sides in the early days of the Surrey Championship – his prolific run-scoring over 300 league matches between 1968 and 1990 a major factor – while also appearing for the National Cricket Association in 1976 and the Club Cricket Conference between 1980 and 1982.
As a dedicated and uncompromising coach, he was also responsible for many fine young players emerging from the Wandsworth-based club.
Khawar Saleem, who chairs Spencer’s adult section, says: “For many years across cricketing circles his name was synonymous with Spencer, as captain and a superb batsman. He was a great cricket man who loved the game and beneath the steely determination to win were stories of taking younger players under his wing and teaching them how to really understand the game and its nuances. Batting with him was a masterclass, protective and encouraging while demanding high standards. Chasing down totals was an art form – he was simply a Spencer legend.”