Cricket

The pacer who took down the Patriots

Jamaica's Oshane Thomas continues to capture prized wickets

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, September 02, 2017

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ENTERING Wednesday's Caribbean Premier League (CPL) game, strident chatter surrounded Chris Gayle and his return to Sabina Park after leaving title-holders Jamaica Tallawahs to captain St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

By the time the curtains came down on an explosive, late-evening affair, the loudest buzz centred on another tall Jamaican, the bustling fast bowler Oshane Thomas.

The 20-year-old's searing pace and steep bounce rattled the Patriots on a batting surface that otherwise appeared a little sluggish.

Playing only his third CPL game and first of the season, he took 3-31 off his allotted four overs to push the Tallawahs to a 41-run victory. The performance earned him the man of the match award.

Even the vaunted Gayle, one of Twenty20 cricket's most feared batsmen, fell in Thomas's wake — the makings of a true-to-life fairy tale.

Gayle went for zero in the first over of the innings when Thomas delivered a quick, fullish ball that swerved back into the left-hander to hit him plumb in front.

Thomas, who plays for Melbourne Cricket Club in Jamaica, also accounted for West Indies T20 Captain Carlos Brathwaite and Mohammad Nabi, as both were undone by rising deliveries clocking upward of 140 km/h. The home fans were delirious.

Stunning as it was, this was hardly new territory for Thomas.

His first ball in first class cricket handed him the big wicket of Windward Islands Volcanoes' Devon Smith during a four-day match hosted by Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park in November 2016.

During a post-game television interview on Wednesday, he said he was not aware how fast he was bowling. He praised former pacer Andrew Richardson — also the Tallawahs team manager and member of the Melbourne coaching staff — for aiding his development.

“I have to say thanks to God for having me bowl so fast. I was never aware of bowling 140 or 150 km/h. I would credit Andrew Richardson because he worked with me a lot,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Thomas said dismissing Gayle was the pick of his three wickets.

The Tallawahs' technical think tank had left out Odean Smith for his former Jamaica Under-19 teammate Thomas. Fast bowler Mohammad Sami, who missed the previous game due to a slight injury, returned to take the place of left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin as the Tallawahs placed almost all their eggs in the pace bowling basket.

It worked to perfection for Kumar Sangakkara, the Tallawahs skipper.

Sangakkara said Gayle was mainly responsible for Thomas's inclusion in the team that defeated Guyana Amazon Warriors last year. Thomas took his maiden CPL wicket in that encounter.

“It was really set up by Oshane who, coming in today, bowled quick,” said the Sri Lanka batting legend.

“I think Chris should get the credit for that because last year Chris was the one who picked him in the side and gave him an opportunity in the final, and he bowled beautifully in that as well. A lot of credit to Chris for spotting him and bringing him in, and we took the advantage.

“It [his pace] gives us a great edge because extra pace with control that Oshane had, meant we could have wickets at important stages,” Sangakkara explained.

Even Gayle was among those heaping praise of the fast bowling sensation.

“Credit must go to Oshane. Today was his first game and he came out and put us on the back foot straight away,” said the former West Indies captain.

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