Enoka brothers reunited in the Black Sox ranks

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Thomas Enoka
SHANE WENZLICK/ Phototek.co.nz
COMEBACK: Thomas Enoka is back in the Black Sox.

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Thomas Enoka is back alongside big brother Ben in the Black Sox almost five years after injury shattered his world championship dream.

The Auckland United player was just 18 when he was selected as a pitcher for the 2009 tournament in Saskatoon, Canada.

But the 23-year-old has reinvented himself as an infielder and power hitter for this weekend's three-test series with Australia in Auckland.

If you're looking for a cricketing comparison, Enoka's transformation is akin to a bowler becoming a top-order batsman.

It's quite a comeback for a young man who played for Samoa at last year's world championship in Auckland where brother Ben, 24, won a gold medal with the Black Sox.

''It's an awesome feeling,'' Thomas said during the Black Sox training camp this week.

''It's an honour to be back in this team.''

He was the bolter in the 2009 squad, just a year after he and Ben played together on the Junior Black Sox at the world under-19 championships.

Things were looking good until he suffered a niggling back complaint - the first injury of his career - and also fell sick on the warmup tour in Canada.

Coach Eddie Kohlhase made the tough call to cut Enoka for the world championship and replace him with a 43-year-old United States-based hitter, Paul Walford.

The younger Enoka was never picked again on Kohlhase's watch.

''I didn't get another shot to work my way into the team, so I had to play for Tanifa Samoa. But that was awesome. I had my old man [Duncan] coaching and I played with my cousin Kallan Compain.''

The Samoans made the quarterfinals, beating the United States, 3-2, on the way.

''But it was always the goal to play for the Black Sox again,'' Enoka said.

The former Massey High School student still regards himself as a pitcher, but he showed his versatility by playing in the infield in North America during the New Zealand off-season.

Enoka said he would ''always have my pitching'', but being able to field and hit the ball hard increased his chances of national selection.

New Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson was impressed with Enoka's ability to clout a long ball and said he was one of the fittest in the squad during testing at recent camps.

Playing with Ben - the established Black Sox centrefielder - is a real bonus.

''He's always been a good role model for me and he's a good leader in our team at Auckland United. He's helped me to get where I am in the sport.''

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But Black Sox fans could soon be seeing triple. There's another Enoka brother, 20-year-old Campbell, who was in the last Junior Black Sox squad and is ''knocking on the door'' of the senior national team, according to Thomas.

''That would be the ultimate dream, all three of us playing on the same Black Sox team. I'm sure that would make our parents pretty proud.''

While he isn't on the Black Sox's four-man pitching roster to face Australia, Thomas hasn't given up hope of toeing the rubber again and hopes to capitalise on his utility value.

- Stuff

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