|Born||1 June 1964 Cork|
|Educated||St Andrew's College, Dublin|
|Occupation||Insurance Broker; Rugby Union Referee|
|Debut||21 June 1984 v West Indies at Rathmines|
|Style||Right-hand bat, right arm medium pace|
|Teams||YMCA, Somerset 2nd XI, MCC|
|History||Alan - or Lewy - Lewis, who remains a very good player, was - in his prime - one of the outstanding Irish batsmen of his generation as well as being a decidedly useful medium pacer, good enough, certainly, to be ranked as a batting all rounder. In recent years, he has become, perhaps, the most instantly known of all Irish cricketers through his rugby refereeing which has made him a familiar figure to millions of television viewers the world over. More recently still he occupied the summariser's chair on TMS during Ireland's epic match against England at Bangalore in March 2011. |
Born in Cork where his father Ian Lewis, winner of 20 Irish caps as a middle order batsman and famed for a remarkable savaging of Alf Valentine's bowling in College Park in 1963, was working, Alan first came to cricketing prominence at St Andrew's College, being a member of Cup winning sides at U 14, U 15 and Senior levels.
He made his name at interprovincial level in the 1979 U15 Smurfit Cup when his all round skills and captaincy had much to do with Leinster taking the title. In their opening match, at Park Avenue, Leinster defeated a fancied NCU XI by two wickets. This was, according to the ICU Yearbook, "Thanks to the all round play of their captain Alan Lewis." He took 3-19 as the visitors were put out for 116 and then made a top score 31 to see his side home. The vital match of the tournament was the Leinster/North West game at Cabra. A home win would be enough for Leinster to lift the trophy whereas a victory for the visitors would see the competition decided on run rate. Leinster made a useful 154-8 and then in the field, "Alan Lewis did wonderfully well." Besides returning another 3-19, he held a spectacular catch and ran out Neil Thomson who was threatening to win the match on his own.
At senior school age group level, he played twice for Ireland against Wales and once against England. Against Wales at Swansea in 1981 he made an impressive 69 in the second innings adding an unbroken 114 for the 4th wicket with his captain Eamon Masterton, taking Ireland to a 7 wicket victory. The Irish then moved on to Cheltenham where rain made a mockery of the match, though England eventually won by six wickets, with future Test opener and ECB supremo Hugh Morris making 53*. Alan, however, again impressed making a quick - run out - 38 as Ireland chased runs to set up a declaration. The following year at Park Avenue, he had fine all round match against Wales, playing a leading role in a convincing Irish victory. Batting first Ireland made 215-8 declared in face of some hostile pace bowling from Steve Watkin, later to open the attack for Glamorgan and - briefly - England. Alan eventually fell lbw to Watkin, but not before he had made a classy 75, putting on 119 for the 5th with Michael Rea (66). Then Alan shared the new ball with Peter O'Reilly and took 2-37 as the visitors conceded a 48 runs lead. Batting again Ireland declared at 149-8, Alan making 13. Wales were never in the hunt, collapsing for 90 with Alan rounding off an outstanding performance with 3-21. He captained the Ireland side in the International Youth Tournament in the Netherlands in 1984. His personal achievements were not outstanding, but his captaincy greatly impressed.
In 1983, by now an established player for YMCA and the South Leinster Guinness Cup side. he made important contributions with the bat for South Leinster in the U19 Interprovincial Tournament, though one of his innings was played in a losing cause. This was against North West at Sydney Parade in mid August. Batting first the hosts made 220, owing much to Alan's 67, however NW were able to pass the score with four wickets standing. Earlier in the season, however, Alan had played what proved to be a match winning innings against Munster, dominating the south easterners' attack with a fine 82 as South Leinster made 206-3 declared. Munster then collapsed, being bowled out for 121.
Alan's long career with YMCA at senior level began in 1980, batting down the order while Ian went in higher up. They never batted together. To the end of last (2010) season Alan had made13780 runs in competitive matches at 34.27 with a highest score of 138 against Clontarf in 2000. He has hit 18 other hundreds -- the most recent being exactly three figures against Railway Union at Park Avenue in 2010 - and 76 fifties. He has also managed the little matter of 492 wickets at 19.08 with 19 "5 fors."
His most memorable season probably remains 1984, when, depicted by Irish Cricket Magazine Annual as "Al of the Thousand Runs" he carried off the Marchant Cup - and for good measure the Samuels - with 1009 runs at 77.61 including four hundreds. He became the first Irish born player to pass the 1000 mark in a Leinster competitive season . He was to pass the 1000 mark again in 1991, though he had to yield the Marchant Cup to Rea who had fewer runs but a better average Always one for the big occasion, Alan has produced some of his best YM performances in the Leinster Senior Cup Final. Thus in his memorable year of 1984 against Leinster at Kimmage he made 108 as YM reached 243-5 in their 60 overs. Then, despite good batting by Jack Short and Brian Buttimer, he took 3-42 which assisted by Jon Garth with 3-48 brought a 28 run victory.
Contenting himself with a mere 87 as YM won again in 1987 with a huge win over Clontarf, he turned in a superb all round performance against the same opponents at Rathmines in 1990. Utterly dominant he made an exuberant 129* as the Claremont Roaders totalled 305-5. With Deryck Vincent also in top form 'Tarf mounted a serious challenge but Alan was not to be denied. Finishing with 6-36, he ensured that the Cup did not spend the next 12 months in the Castle Avenue Trophy Cabinet. Another century came in the next season's Final when his 124 enabled YM to reach 236-6 before bowling Leinster out for 85. In 1994 he was again prominent as YM recorded a memorable one wicket victory over Malahide at Park Avenue. Batting first Malahide made 155-9 in their 55 overs with Alan having figures of 9.1-2-17-5. Then as YM struggled against Alf Masood he was joint top scorer with Mark each making 28, before the last pair scrambled home in the 49th over.
He was therefore one of the key elements in YMCA's highly successful years in the late 1980s and early 90s, though other members of their poweful batting side, such as Angus Dunlop, Jon Garth and Nulty were also of great importance as were the rather more unsung heroes such as Masterton and Ian Burns. As his form, when available, last season showed, Alan is still a formidable opponent, now in his fourth decade with the Club. Alan captained the Club in 2011 and 2012,showing that he still retained his form in 2012 whe he averaged 31.30 and hit an attractive and dominant 94 against The Hills in early June. Facing 99 balls, he hit 11 fours and 2 sixes, his stroke play recalling many deeds of the past. However for 2013 he has taken over the captaincy of the 2nd XI, which can only benefit from his experience and leadership.
At Senior Interprovincial level, he made debut in 1982 and by the time of his retirement from representative cricket had scored 1797 runs at 31.52 with two 100s and twelve 50s. He also showed flair and inventiveness as a captain. The first of his centuries came against Ulster Country at The Lawn and was an outstanding knock. The visitors found the UC attack formidable but Alan was never in any real trouble as he stroked his way to 112 at No 3. It was almost solely due to him that SL reached the respectable score of 224 all out, the next highest scorer was Rodney Molins with 26 at 8. Alan then had 3-54 including dangerman and big hitter Jim Patterson, but the hosts held on to win by 4 wickets. His other hundred came in a big win over Munster at The Mardyke in 1993. He led the assault on the hosts' bowling with 115, leading to a declaration at 265-4. Munster made a fight of it but went down by 98 runs. Alan also had several very useful bowling performances in these matches. Besides four hauls of 4 wickets each, he had one remarkable spell against Ulster Country at Bready in 1992. SL batted first and with Alan caught off Paul McCrum for 6, were bowled out for 124 with another Alan - Nelson - taking 4-28. UC reached 50-3 and seemed to be coasting home when Alan entered the attack. He swept away the rest of the order with figures of 8 - 2 - 21 - 6 as UT fell for 84.
That wonderful year of 1984 also saw not only Alan's Irish debut, a rather inauspicious 0 against The West Indies at Rathmines, but also brought him a brief trial with Somerset. He made a half century against a powerful Hampshire 2nd XI pace attack composed of three men who did well in the first class game, but soon returned to Dublin. He explained that he disliked the personal competitiveness of the Second XI Championship. Wisden has commemorated him as AD Lewis for this part of his career! He took some time firmly to establish himself in the Irish side but, when his career was somewhat abruptly terminated as is related below,, had scored 3579 runs at 28.63 in 121 matches with a first class average of 55. He scored four 100s and twenty 50s, the last of which was, appropriately, in what proved to be his final match v Earl of Arundel's XI in 1997.
His first hundred did not come until 1990 but he had already proved his worth at a high level. Thus in a 60 over match against Yorkshire at Malahide in 1986, he topscored for Ireland with 48, having the ill luck to fall to a return catch off the occasional off spin of Kevin Sharp whose twelve first class wickets cost over 70 a piece! With two fifties against Wales in 1988 under his helmet, he made his real breakthrough against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1989. Needing 246 to win in their second innings Ireland were bowled out for 146. Alan's 82 was one of only two double figure scores, the other being Garth's 29. They rescued Ireland from the depths of 9-4. However after Garth was out David "Syd" Lawrence tore through the rest of the batting to finish with 7-24. It was quite a match for YM with Nulty making 76 in the first innings and Alan taking 3-52 in the county's second knock.
The elusive three figures finally arrived at Kimmage in July 1990 against Wales. Batting first Ireland were 50-3 when Alan joined his captain Stephen Warke. They put on 159 for the 4th wicket, Alan eventually making an undefeated 136 which was to remain his highest score for Ireland. He invaribly seemed to score runs against Scotland, notching two 50s in the match at Eglinton in 1993, when he also took 4-23, his best bowling figures for Ireland - before making 113* in the second innings of the 1994 match played on what Derek Scott called "a marvellous pitch" at Hamilton Crescent. Alan, now leading the side, won the toss and contributed 39 to Ireland's first innings 316-5 before declaring. Scotland also declared then Ireland lost three wickets by close on the second day. However Alan was then joined by Garfield Harrison, and both went on to make centuries. Alan's 113* came in 223 minutes including two 6s and fifteen 4s. Their stand of 224* equalled the Irish record for that wicket. They have since been surpassed by Will Porterfield and Kevin O' Brien v Kenya at Nairobi in 2007. The match ended in a draw with the Scots, despite an apparent understanding over the target set, proving reluctant to chase. Another hundred against the "auld enemy" followed two years later at Broughty Ferry when Alan, having failed in the first innings stood between Ireland and defeat. Set 331 to win, Ireland were 276-8 at stumps owing almost everything to Alan whose undefeated 122 came off 238 balls and contained twenty 4s.
His fourth and final hundred for his country came in the ICC trophy of 1997 against Gibraltar at Kuala Lumpar. Opening the batting he put on 86 for the first wicket with Decker Curry, then added 163 for the second with Justin Benson (73). He reached 50 off 73 balls and his century off 123. In all he batted 205 minutes and faced 142 balls, hitting three 6s and four 4s. Some thought Ireland should have scored more runs, but they had more than enough for Gibraltar. Alan's fourth hundred ended, like the first three, undefeated.
He had many other fine innings for Ireland, for example 91 against the Zimbabwe Cricket Union President's XI in 1991 and two seventies in the match against MCC at Lord's in 1995. However arguably his best shorter innings came against Kent at The Green in a Benson and Hedges Group Match in May 1995. Winning the toss he chose to bat and had to suffer his side being bowled out for 146. Coming in at 14-2 his fighting, undefeated 67 made a match of it though Kent needed only 33 overs to chalk up a 10 wicket win. He received the Man of the Match "Gold Award." This completed a unique double for an Irish player as he had also been Man of the Match in a Nat West First Round match against Middlesex at Castle Avenue in 1991. On a slow wicket the county made 216-7 in their allocated overs with Alan taking 4-47 including Mike Gatting and Mark Ramprakash. He then made 25 as Ireland replied with 171-9.
He captained Ireland 35 times winning on only six occasions. He did not have the resources or facilities that his successors in more recent times have had and he was also always prepared to gamble in the hope of victory. Some critics took him to task for this but, considering the negative attitude shown by some previous Irish captains, it was most commendable stance to take. Cricket was always interesting with Lewy in charge. Unfortunately his captaincy and career ended abruptly one match before he had intended. On the English tour of 1997, he had just scored 51 against the Earl of Arundel's XI when, before the final match v MCC at Lord's, he told coach Mike Hendrick, that he intended to retire from international cricket at the end of the season to concentrate on his rugby refereeing. Hendrick promptly dropped him for the MCC match, surely a move devoid of any feeling of recognition for all that Alan had done for Irish cricket, though the man himself thought that people made too much out of it. He retains his respect for the former England paceman and feels that as coach Hendrick did much for Irish cricket.
As a rugby footballer Alan had been a scrum half for the Wanderers Club in Dublin until injury forced him out of the game. He then took up the whistle and rose quickly. He was a touch judge in the 1999 World Cup - was Hendrick, I wonder, watching on his TV - and then officiated in both the 2003 and 2007 tournaments being fourth official in the 2007 final. He was the first referee to take charge of 50 Heineken Cup games and, besides the Six Nations, has crossed the Equator to take several Tri Nations Matches. After being passed over for the panel for the 2011 World Cup he retired from refereeing, bowing out by officiating in a veterans' tournament in te Caribbean.
David Alan Lewis was a remarkable cricketer for Ireland as well as a long serving stalwart for "his beloved YMCA." He was, as has already been mentioned, in the TMS commentary box on that wonderful night in Bangalore and his reactions and emotion at Kevin O'Brien's innings and Ireland's victory must have reflected what every Irish supporter was feeling at that historic moment. He certainly spoke for this writer.
He is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald "Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats."
Edward Liddle, March 2011; updated February 2013
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