England news February 8, 2014

Finally, Onions gets an England call

ESPNcricinfo staff

Graham Onions has finally won a call up to an England squad.

Onions, whose exclusion from England's Ashes squad became the subject of widespread criticism, should not get overly excited yet - he is not about to return the full England side, but has been summoned as extra fast-bowling cover to the England Lions squad in Sri Lanka.

Onions replaces his Durham county colleague, Mark Wood, who was flying home on Saturday after sustaining a side injury in the first warm-up fixture in Colombo last week.

The extent of Wood's injury is not yet known, but the Lions' medical team was concerned enough to send him back to England to continue his rehabilitation.

James Whitaker, England's national selector, said: "Mark had a very impressive start to the Lions tour taking five wickets in the first warm up match. However, having been injured, it is very important that he has every chance of starting the season for Durham in the best possible condition, therefore we have agreed with Durham that the best course of action is for Mark to return home."

Onions should be in decent physical shape. He has recently completed a season with the Dolphins franchise in South Africa. His last Test was in a rain-hit Test against West Indies at Edgbaston in 2012.

"This presents a good opportunity for Graham to join up with the Lions and play an important role in their series against Sri Lanka," Whitaker said. "We have been monitoring his progress in South Africa, and now this presents him with a chance to impress ahead of the summer International series."

Wood, a whippy and slender right-arm quick, impressed with 27 wickets at 24.07 runs apiece before injury interrupted his maiden Championship season.

He underwent a strength and conditioning course at Loughborough before the Lions tour and had been optimistic that it would bring the benefit of extra pace and stamina. No sooner had he completed the course than he was called up for the Lions tour because of an injury to Somerset's fast bowler Jamie Overton.

Four fast bowlers on the fringe of the England squad have now broken down this winter alone.

  • Jamie Overton never got on tour after he was ruled out at Loughborough.

  • David Willey, the Northants allrounder, who had been regarded as a decent bet for England's World T20 squad, left the England Performance Programme squad in Australia after England uncovered what was diagnosed as a long-standing stress fracture.

  • Essex's left-arm quick Reece Topley also picked up a lower back injury in Australia.

  • Mark Wood's debut tour has now lasted only one match.

ESPNcricinfo will provide full coverage of the England Lions' three four-day Test matches against Sri Lanka A in Kandy, Dambulla and Colombo in the next three weeks.