JAMAICA and West Indies fast bowler Oshane Thomas, named among the reserve players for the tour of England, insists Test cricket is the ‘holy grail’ through which undoubted greatness is judged.
The 23-year-old has played 20 One-Day Internationals (ODI) and 12 Twenty20 (T20) matches for West Indies, but while he made his debut in both formats back in 2018, he is yet to get a taste of Test match cricket.
“I definitely want to play Test cricket; I want to do well in all three formats,” he said during a recent interview after training at Sabina Park.
“Test cricket is really the ultimate that everyone wants to play to be great. You don’t want to just be an average cricketer; you want to be among the greats,” Thomas added.
“I was called up for the England Test tour in the Caribbean and I didn’t get to make my debut, but hopefully [I will] this time around,” he noted, referring to the West Indies 2-1 victory last year which gave them claim to the Wisden Trophy.
Thomas said West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons is among those encouraging him to play Tests.
“Coach Phil [and I], we always have a talk. He says I can’t be bowling that fast — probably bowling the fastest in the Caribbean — and not play in his Test team,” he said.
Cricket West Indies recently announced a 14-member squad plus a batch of 11 reserves for the tour of England. The series was originally set to run from May to June but was postponed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
All three Tests are to be played behind closed doors in biosecure facilities to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, which has taken over 40,000 lives in the United Kingdom (UK) and close to 400,000 worldwide.
Before the pandemic cut down all major sports in March, Thomas had been in electric form.
He claimed 5-28 in the opening T20 match as West Indies swept aside hosts Sri Lanka 2-0 in early March. The towering pacer is only just getting back into the groove after approximately 12 weeks of less-than-ideal training.
“Coming back from the Sri Lanka tour — a good series [and taking] a five-wicket haul and then the pandemic just came into play and no cricket. Last week is my first week back bowling on a pitch. I had been doing some little bowling here and there.
‘m very happy to be back bowling and I’m looking forward to playing Test cricket. It’s just up to me as a person; I just need to be fit and ready, and I should be in the Test team,” he said.
Since breaking into the West Indies senior team almost two years ago, the Jamaican pacer has sustained injury niggles which have evoked questions about his fitness regime.
In January he was placed in a specialised training camp with West Indies coaches, but the following month he was involved in a motor vehicle collision.
Though the car he was driving overturned, Thomas escaped serious injury. To his credit he was back in training in less than a week, and proved the selectors right with his impact on the T20 tour of Sri Lanka.
I’m not going to say I’m at 100 [per cent], but I think I’m aware of where I want to be. Only thing I’d probably be short of now is match fitness because I haven’t played for about three months now.
“Coming back from a car accident [in which] fortunately I just got some scrapes, but the car flipped a few times so I got jerked up here and there.
“Now I’m just feeling some stiffness because I just started bowling back at full speed but otherwise I’m alright,” he explained.
If given the chance in England, he has a straightforward mindset.
I just want to relax, bowl, put the ball in the right areas and let the ball do the work. Even if I’m not playing I’ll be training and keeping my fitness up. If I’m not playing I want to learn as much as a can,” Thomas said.
The West Indies contingent is scheduled to leave for the UK this week.
Players and staff will be quarantined for two weeks before the opening Test, set to start on July 8 at Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
The second and third matches are slated for Old Trafford in Manchester, beginning on July 16 and 24, respectively.
Squad — Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Chemar Holder, Nkrumah Bonner, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer.
Reserves – Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.