It was a sad moment for cricket when the death of Tony Lewis was announced.
I first met Tony in the most surreal of moments possible. It was at Lord’s in 2013. I was scoring for Oxford University in the one-day Varsity Match. We had rain and the second innings had to be reduced. Once we had details of the resumption, I got to work with my fellow scorer, Helen Hyde from Cambridge University, to work out the Duckworth/Lewis calculations. We entered the data and soon had the revised total. It was the first time I had ever used Duckworth/Lewis in a major fixture. Suddenly, behind us in the scorebox a voice spoke.
“Well done. You did that perfectly.”
I turned round to see who was speaking to us. I did not recognise the chap who must have come into the box as we commenced calculations.
“I’m Tony Lewis,” he said shaking my hand.
You could not make this up. There I was doing my first ever major D/L calculation and Tony had been standing right behind me. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I didn’t know at the time that Tony lived just outside of Oxford and he was a regular visitor to the wonderful University Parks ground, home of Oxford University and Oxford MCCU. So, from that day we became ‘cricket’ friends. Whenever possible, Tony used to come into Oxford to see as many one-day games as possible. He attended multi-day fixtures but much preferred the one-day game. There was rarely a day that he didn’t come into the press room to say ‘hello’. If he arrived late, he would wave a hello before taking his seat, usually just in front of the press room, but never disturbing the scorers. We would then catch up at an interval.
Although Tony was a household name in the world of cricket and beyond, he wasn’t often recognised. Sometimes, when a major fixture was being played, there may be approaching one hundred players and spectators in front of the pavilion watching. Tony would be sitting there in the middle of them and nobody knew who he was.
Each time I hosted a new scorer at University Parks and Tony was there, I asked him if he would mind being introduced to my fellow scorer. He never refused and came into the press room to do the honours. I lost count of the numbers of scorers, some of whom were touring from other parts of the world, who were utterly thrilled that Tony had spoken to them. And it was never a quick ‘hello’. Tony never rushed to get away.
The most memorable introduction happened during another Varsity fixture at Lord’s. Andy Scarlett, the scorebox manager, gave Helen Hyde permission to bring her father up into the box. When Mr Bebbington arrived, Tony had turned up. Helen’s dad simply couldn’t believe that Tony Lewis was there and that he was actually meeting him. Tony was his usual brilliant self with Mr Bebbington and spent ages talking to him. Helen texted me when she heard about Tony’s passing. She said that her now late father was “absolutely made up” when he met him in Lord’s scorebox
In more recent times Tony became less involved with the D/L and moved to Summertown in Oxford. This saw his visits to University Parks increase. He was a familiar sight with his sandwiches, flask and binoculars. On one of these occasions we had a rain interruption and Tony came into the press room. Before I had even entered the data into the laptop, Tony had worked out the revised D/L total in his head. He was spot on.
On behalf of so many scorers, I would personally like to thank Tony for his positive influence on the game of cricket, his friendship and for taking the time to speak to so many scorers.