SHACAYA Thomas came to Mildura to play cricket.
Little did he know he’d bag his biggest catch off field.
Thomas was brought to Mildura by the now Gol Gol Cricket Club in 2017.
Fast forward four years and he’s happily still here, with two years left on his contract, and new fiancee – Carley Sparkes – by his side.
Thomas’ relationship blossomed from friendship with Carley a couple of years ago and now the two are engaged.
While supportive of Thomas’ cricket, Carley laughs she not incredibly fond of the the sport, and definitely enjoys watching her partner bat more than field.
Thomas was born and raised in St Catherine, Jamaica.
He describes himself as an observant and quite child, who would be more expressive through playing any sport he could.
Cricket, running, soccer, softball, Thomas was into it all.
Coming from a family who love their sport, Thomas said cricket and soccer were his preferred activities, and he played soccer because it was “more fun” than cricket.
“Cricket was more so to pass time because I was very good when I played with my friends,” Thomas said.
Thomas, now 32, was only four or five when he first picked up a cricket bat. His first game came only a few years later.
“If said I remember how much I made I would be lying,” Thomas laughed.
“But I do know I was eight years old and played my first game for The Friendship Primary School and we won.”
Fast forward 24 years and the game has taken Thomas all over the world.
“What attracted me to the sport was the opportunity to see the world and experience new culture,” he said.
“What I enjoy the most is the endless memories you create and being able to make a difference in people’s life.”
Cricket has allowed Thomas to achieve some impressive things – including representing his country.
“As a 16-year-old I broke the highest school boy record of 307,” he said.
“I went on to make 324 not out in a grand final but as an adult I say my biggest achievement so far is representing my country in first class cricket.
“My highest score in first class cricket was 176 versus Guyana.”
His first “major journey” – as he describes it, was representing Jamaica in the Under 19 competition for two years, in which he played around the Caribbean.
“I moved on play for the West Indies Under 19s in the World Cup 2008 in Malaysia,” Thomas added.
“Then I went on to represent Combine Campuses and Colleges (CCC) and the Jamaican senior team in first class cricket.
“I have represented the West Indies High Performance Centre, West Indies B Team, Antigua Hawksbills in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and played Premier League and Division League in England, California and Bangladesh.”
It was Gol Gol Cricket Club recruitment officer Ben McPhee who contacted Thomas through his agency and ultimately brought him to Sunraysia and he hasn’t looked back.
“The people exceeded my expectation which is always a plus when you looking to start in a new environment with different culture,” Thomas said.
“It’s one of those feelings when you say to yourself: ‘I am in the right place’, because I love a challenge and Australia is one of my favourite countries.”
Thomas spends his time in Mildura exploring nature, enjoying the food and multi-culture vibes and relaxing by the Murray River.
“Despite being a small town there is plenty of things to do and see,” he added.
He also enjoys animated cartoons, gym and is always up for doing something fun.
But when it comes to putting in the effort and working hard, Thomas has no problem buckling down and he puts this down to the reason why he was awarded the Innes Medal for the best player in the Sunraysia Cricket Association last year.
“Honestly, I was happy to win the medal but it was never on my list of goals,” Thomas said.
“It was a great achievement that symbolizes the hard work players put in behind the scenes but my sights are on a flag.
“I, one hundred per cent, would take that over all the awards.”
Thomas said he doesn’t set achievements for himself individually, because he sees that as limiting himself, and he aims to give it his best, week in, week out, whether that be battling, bowling, fielding or helping his team mates.
There will come a time though, when Thomas will give it all away, and when that time comes, he plans on marrying his financee, studying a course in active support work and applying for his resident visa.
ABOVE: Shacaya Thomas came to Sunraysia in 2019.
BELOW: Thomas and his fiancee Carley Sparkes.