Darren Thomas hit the headlines on his county debut in 1992 when he took 5-80 gainst Derbyshire at Chesterfield aged 17 years and 212 days. 14 years later, he won a place in Glamorgan`s record books by becoming their first 12th man to score a century in first-class cricket with a remarkable hundred against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl. After being nominated as the player to be replaced by Simon Jones after his release from the England side, Thomas scored 105 against a Hampshire attack that boasted Shane Warne. But the Australian leg-spinner posed no threat to Thomas as he repeatedly reverse-swept Warne to the boundary!
After his dramtic county debut in 1992, the all-rounder from Llanelli subsequently won a place in the Young England side, and he also started to show rice promise with the bat, as testified by a career best 78 against Gloucestershire at Abergavenny.
Even so, he was erratic at times, and prone to no balls, but there was no denying that Thomas could bowl with genuine pace and hostility, as testified by a return of 6-20 in the Benson and Hedges Cup match with the Combined Universities at Cardiff in 1995.
He rather lost his way in 1996, but under the wise guidance of coach Duncan Fletcher he made rapid headway during 1997, and his greater accuracy and strike rate were two of the chief factors behind Glamorgan's Championship quest. Indeed, it was fitting that Thomas should bowl Glamorgan to victory at Taunton, and to the Championship title. He was deservedly awarded his county cap in the penultimate game of the summer and during the season he impressed many good judges.
Thomas consolidated on his headway with a marvellous season in 1998. He finished the summer as the county's leading wicket-taker with 71 first-class victims at 24 apiece. He also scored 507 runs, and in the AXA League match against Surrey at Swansea he returned figures of 7-16 : the best ever analysis for Glamorgan in one-day cricket, and the third best figures for any county in 40 overs cricket.
He was suitably rewarded with a place in the England A party for the 1998/99 tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe, although some people felt that in comparison with some of the players chosen in the full England party for Australia, Thomas could have gained selection for the Ashes tour. He responded with 8 wickets in the first `A` Test, and on his return to the U.K., Thomas was Glamorgan`s leading wicket-taker in 1999.
He was called up again by the England selectors in 1999/2000 as a replacement on the `A` tour to New Zealand, and returned home to become the county`s leading wicket-taker in Championship cricket in 2000. Darren continued to make many important contributions with both bat and ball in 2001 and 2002, when he recorded bowling figures of 7/33 against Durham at Cardiff, and recorded his first match haul of ten wickets for the Welsh county.
His aggressive batting in one-day games has helped to secure several victories, in particualr the Twenty20 victory over Northamptonshire in 2004, whilst later in the competition a return of 3/32 against Warwickshire in the quarter-final at Cardiff helped Glamorgan win a place at the finals day of the Twenty20 Cup.
After a Benefit in 2006, Darren left Glamorgan and joined Essex for the 2007 season. However, he sustained a shoulder injury during pre-season matches and after failing to recover from the injury, he announced his retirement from the first-class game in September 2007 having failed to play in a 1st XI match for Essex.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 Dr.A.K.Hignell)