Lewis had to wait some time for his England chance and when it came he made the most of it.
Having helped Gloucestershire win the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1999 and 2000, he joined the England A tour to the West Indies in 2000-01 as cover for Steve Harmison but suffered a back injury and missed most of the domestic season.
He worked hard to recover his form and, besides aiding Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy triumphs in 2003 and 2004, was twice the highest English-qualified wicket-taker in the County Championship.
Lewis was named in England's 30-man provisional squad for the 2004 Champions Trophy but did not make the final party. That winter he was called up as cover for the final Test in South Africa, but again missed out.
In 2005 he was a non-playing member of the Test squads to face Bangladesh and finally made his England bow in the Twenty20 international at the start of Australia's Ashes tour, taking four wickets in a memorable victory at the Rose Bowl.
That performance earned Lewis a one-day international debut versus Bangladesh at the Oval in the triangular NatWest Series. He took 3-32 in a 10-wicket win.
Lewis missed out on the 2005 Ashes triumph and the tour of Pakistan that followed, but played his only Test the next summer - a defeat to Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge.
Having inherited Gloucestershire's captaincy, he led the Gladiators to the Pro40 Division Two title in 2006 before playing in the shared NatWest Series with Pakistan and the Champions Trophy.
He was impressive in the early stages of the Commonwealth Bank Series against Australia and New Zealand before an Achilles injury forced him to return home early. He recovered to be part of the 2007 World Cup squad but did not play in the competition.
The Achilles problem resurfaced and he missed much of his benefit season, although he helped Gloucestershire finish runners-up in the Twenty20 Cup.
Lewis relinquished the captaincy at the end of the 2008 campaign, the start of a fallow period for the county, and joined Surrey for 2012.