Oshane Thomas is only 23 but in his short international career, the lanky pacer has shown the ability to hurl a ball at menacing speeds, ruffling up the best of batsmen. England found it the hard way when they were shot out for a paltry 113 in a one-day international in March 2019 with Thomas leading the way with figures of 5/21.
Thomas was first discovered by Andrew Richardson, the Jamaica Tallawahs team coach at the Melbourne Cricket Club, in Jamaica and was immediately offered a contract. The likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell were mighty impressed by what they saw of Thomas and it was not long after that he made his international debut.
It has been quite a journey for Thomas but the road has not always been as rosy for the 6 feet 6 inches tall pacer. Growing up in Clarendon, in Jamaica where daily livelihood was often a struggle, Thomas found an exit through cricket. But it was still not as easy.
Thomas lost an elder brother to bullets of a drug-running mafia in Clarendon when he was fairly young and despite trying to concentrate on his cricket as much as possible, the neighborhood always somehow caught up to him. In a show brought together by Caribbean Premier League, known as CPL Life Stories, Thomas visits the site of his brother's murder, talks about how that impacted his life and how cricket helped him get back on his feet.
"I was nine or 10 around that time and didn’t know much about life, but it was hard on my mum," says Thomas choking repeatedly trying to hold back tears as he recalls the shooting of his brother. "It was not a gang war or anything but a case of mistaken identity. My brother got shot in the foot and it ended up broken so he couldn't run and they (the gang) went over and gave him like six (bullets) more.
"It's tough for a while but eventually you get over things. You never forget your family but eventually, you get over things," says Thomas as he asks the driver of the car that he is travelling to pull aside and shows the site where his brother was found.
The episode shows how Thomas then moved to Melbourne Cricket Club, in Jamaica, was spotted by the Jamaica franchise and moved onto make his debut during the 2016 season.
Thomas played only two matches during CPL 2016, where he managed a lone wicket and two matches during the 2017 season but his pace and hostility had already become a talking point. The 2018 season was one where Thomas showed what he really was capable of. In 10 matches, the pacer returned 18 wickets, the second-highest that season only behind Fawad Ahmed's 22 at an impeccable strike rate of 12.7.
Things changed quite quickly for the speedster after that season as he was drafted into the West Indies team and soon made his international debut against India, in Guwahati.
"2017 CPL was my big breakout year and from that year I told myself that I won't look back," Thomas said.
Having already had success in the CPL and for West Indies, the next step was the IPL and soon enough he was picked up by Rajasthan Royals for a whopping INR 1.1 Cr during the 2019 auctions.
"The IPL was a lot of fun; they treat you like a king. In Rajasthan Royals, they treat you like a family. I was there on the bench for ten games, you've still had to hold your focus because only four overseas players can play – Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and Jos Buttler and a youngster coming in, knowing I can’t play alongside those four so I told myself to keep focussing.
"Finally, I got a crack and I did well. It was really good and I am looking forward to the next IPL. Hopefully, I could go on to start in the Rajasthan Royals’ team."
Thomas played four matches in IPL 2019 where he picked up five wickets striking every 12 balls which included the wickets of David Warner and Andre Russell.
The last few months have not been kind to Thomas. He escaped serious injuries when he was involved in a motor accident in February 2018 in Jamaica. With things slowly returning to normalcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas will be looking to secure a permanent place in all three formats for the West Indies.