International Cricket Council

Gaby Lewis – A trailblazer generations in the making

The sun lit up the La Manga grounds in Murcia during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier last week, but what caught the eye was something else: Gaby Lewis’ batting was just as radiant.

Watch the highlights of Gaby Lewis' historic century on!

Lewis was 13 when she made her international debut. She is now, at just 20, already an experienced international, having played 63 matches across formats. And remarkably, the feeling is that this is just the start for Lewis. 

That was certainly the lingering impression left by her record 105* against Germany on the opening day of the Qualifier. It was a knock that was controlled and dominant in equal measure, and in reaching the landmark she became the first Ireland Women's player to score an international ton. It also earned her a nomination for the ICC Women's Player of the Month award for August.

The elation that followed when she got to the mark suggested this was a feat years in the making.

“I grew up into a huge cricketing family,” Lewis tells ICC.     

“We were all down to the club as young girls, me and my sister. And playing for Ireland with my sister is something that I'll never forget. Cricket’s always on in the house. I’ve hugely enjoyed it, there was never any pressure on us to play cricket but it is what I love and continue to do it now.”

Lewis is part of a family whose links to cricket go back a long time. Her father Alan was among the most capped cricketers for Ireland during his playing days in the 1980s and 1990s, while her grandfather Ian played 20 times for Ireland, and was an influential figure in administration thereafter. Along with her sister Robyn, Lewis is continuing the family's association with the sport.

That said, much like her father, Lewis' fondness for cricket doesn't come at the cost of excellence in other sports. Lewis loves hockey, and takes to the sport when she feels the need to switch off from cricket.

“I love to keep up with hockey," she says. "It has taken a back seat at the moment. Cricket’s my priority. But I love to play hockey. I keep up with my conditioning and fitness. It kind of takes my mind off cricket which is brilliant but keeping fit at the same time.”

That excellence in multiple sports ties in well with her favourite cricketer, South Africa great AB de Villiers, who is famously good at multiple disciplines. The similarity goes beyond that though.

In her T20I career thus far, Lewis has amassed 995 runs. Out of those, she has scored 574 runs in boundaries – 127 fours and 11 sixes. That's 57.68 per cent of her runs coming via boundaries. To put this into perspective, de Villiers had a percentage of 55.02. 

“I think the way he can hit 360 is what I love," says Lewis. "I saw him against the West Indies, scored a lot of runs, and saw where he hit the boundaries. How he can access every single part of the ground really influenced me to try and take my game to the next level and do that.”

The century against Germany suggests she's doing just that. And Lewis hopes it will inspire more young girls to take up the sport.  

“To score a hundred in T20s is brilliant," says Lewis. "There have been a few before me that may not have been internationals. But since we’ve got international status in T20s, that was the first. It has been brilliant.

I hope I inspired young girls and hopefully I go back to clubs, hopefully, that will influence people to take up cricket and do what they are doing. That would be great to see."

Lewis wasn’t always an opener. She first batted for Ireland as a No.7, before her prowess with the bat became evident, and she gradually moved to the top. “As I came in, there wasn’t really room for me in the top four, so I had to fight my way ever since I joined,” she says.

“In T20s I love opening the batting, the Powerplay and then in 50 overs as well, hopefully. It is something that I’d love to do in the future.” 

The ICC Women's Player of the Month nominees for August 2021
The ICC Women's Player of the Month nominees for August 2021

As a batter, she is a student of the game and routinely does her homework before matches.

“I quite like to know what I’m going to face, and what bowlers I’m going to face, and doing all that the day before. I try to stay as relaxed as I can. I’m not too superstitious. Once I get my hit in before the game, I am good to go.

“I haven’t really set many goals, but just enjoy my cricket and win as many games as possible. There is a huge tournament coming for us in December, which we are looking forward to. I will keep enjoying my cricket and playing with a smile on my face.”

Lewis loves to have a bowl as well, and has picked up 13 international wickets in all, although at the moment, that side of her game has been put on the backburner.

“I do enjoy bowling, it is something that has taken a back-seat at the moment but I am looking to keep sticking out in the next year.”

At the end of the ICC Women's World T20 in 2018, four of Ireland's most reliable players – Isobel Joyce, Cecilia Joyce, Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe – bid adieu to international cricket. 

It has left Ireland in a period of transition, but in Lewis they have an experienced candidate and someone who the team can be rebuilt around. 

“I love doing well and love success. Also being part of the team is huge,” she says. “I love celebrating with the team. You win with the team but you also lose with the team.”

If Lewis can continue on this path, one suspects there’ll be more wins than losses.