WINDIES WINDMILL: Workers Gol Gol’s Jamaican import Shacaya Thomas has scored two unbeaten centuries in his first two innings this Sunraysia Cricket Association season. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
WORKERS Gol Gol’s Shacaya Thomas provides everything that cricket fans love in a West Indian batsman – supreme self-confidence and brilliant talent to back it up.
The 30-year-old from Kingston, Jamaica, has started the 2018/19 Sunraysia Cricket Association (SCA) season in a blaze of glory, bringing up unbeaten centuries in the first two one-day matches.
The highly rated Thomas, who has played for the West Indies ‘B’ side, joined Workers 12 months ago and showed some impressive form in his first season, but his first two innings this time around has him threatening to tear the competition apart.
The right-handed opener always wanted to play cricket in Australia and said he is glad to have joined the club at Carramar Drive.
“It was my dream to come to Australia and to be able to represent Workers Gol Gol is a honour in itself,” he said.
TURN your calendar back about 12 months ago and ‘Shac’ Thomas, Workers’ brand new import, boldly declared he could make 1000 runs for the SCA season.
He finished with 495 runs, which included a century, two fifties and another five scores above 30. It wasn’t quite the total he hoped for, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Now he could be on track for the millennium mark after the 30-year-old has blasted two centuries in the opening one day matches of the 2018/19 season.
He began with a swashbuckling 126 not out from just 112 balls (which included 14 fours and a six) in Workers’ nine-wicket win in the season opener against Mildura East, before backing up with an unbeaten 101 from 103 deliveries in the weekend’s victory over reigning premiers Irymple.
No doubt Merbein South’s bowlers this week will have upped their intake of Weet-Bix at the breakfast table.
While Thomas has confidence in his ability, he is also a self-confessed “harsh marker” of his own performances. Even though he top-scored for Workers in their semi-final defeat to Irymple in March, he still holds himself responsible for the loss.
“I rate my first season as average. The first half was very good and the second half was poor by my own standards,” he said.
“I know they say one person can’t win a tournament but I let down the team last year in the semi-finals when they needed me the most. I mark myself hard.
“I thank to God I started this season on a high but, like they say, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
“My first game back after not batting for a month was rusty and it was just experience that got me through. As the East coach said in the papers they are rebuilding, but I think they’re a good bunch of guys that will be competitive.
“My second game was hard work. The outfield was heavy and the pitch was not easy to score on because they were smart with their bowling. I just decided to bat out their two best bowlers and then score off the bowlers to come next.
“I am happy to start the season with two centuries, but more happy because the team won both games.”
JAMAICA has provided a number of outstanding cricketers on the international stage. Fast bowlers Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding and ‘keeper extraordinaire Jeffrey Dujon are leading lights, as well as current day stars Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.
Like many kids growing up in the Caribbean, however, Thomas’s hero was the ‘Prince of Trinidad’, Brian Lara.
Thomas began playing cricket in Kingston at the age of eight, and established himself as a top level junior. This included a Jamaican schoolboy record score of a massive 324 not out as a 16-year-old.
He also went on to play for Jamaica’s Under 19 side for two years, before joining Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) in first-class cricket. He also represented West Indies Under 19’s at the 2008 World Cup where he played against current Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
“While playing for CCC, I won the award for first-class cricketer of the year, which earned me the call-up to play for the West Indies ‘B’ team,” Thomas said.
“I represented West Indies High Performance Centre in the Caribbean One Day competition and played Caribbean Premier League (CPL) for St. Kitts and Nevis.”
It was 2016 when Thomas made the decision to head overseas to play cricket.
It began in the Derbyshire County Cricket League Premier division, while for the last two years he has competed in the Surrey County Cricket League.
One place he always wanted to play, however, was in Australia. Enter Workers Gol Gol and the SCA.
“The cricket here compared to home is similar as the weather is the same and pitches are hard and nice to bat on for most part. The standard is quite high and competitive,” Thomas said.
“As a team we are looking to go to the grand final and win, but talk is cheap. We will take it game by game.
“Last year we could have targeted some teams for points, but this year is different as all the teams are looking to challenge for the flag.
“The guys are confident and believe we can do it. That’s one part to success, now we have to put in the work and prove how much we want the flag.
“I want to win the flag, but I also want to be an asset by passing on my knowledge and experience to the youngsters of the club.
“I also want to score as many runs as possible and help the team in any aspect of the game.
“Conditions change as the competition goes on but I’d love to be part of the winning team and finish with the most runs at the end of the season, if it’s God’s will.”
No doubt the ‘Windies’ Windmill’ will provide plenty of excitement for the rest of the season.