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Finally, Onions gets an England call

ESPNcricinfo staff

February 8, 2014

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Graham Onions gives a press conference after arriving for his stint with Dolphins, Durban, October 23, 2013
Graham Onions spent much of his winter with Dolphins in South Africa © Getty Images
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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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by threeslipsandagully on (February 10, 2014, 2:51 GMT)

@RandyOZ Presumably by "journeymen" you mean "players who topped the wickets tally in the County Championship two seasons running, averaging below 20 with the ball in both". Maybe you should start worrying about the big trouble golden boy Mitchell Johnson will be in against the South Africans. Assuming he actually manages to land the ball on the square, he's not exactly renowned for consistency.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 9, 2014, 22:22 GMT)

@JG2704 (post on February 8, 2014, 21:30 GMT): Thanks. We'd never hear the end of it from certain posters if we considered yet another South African-born player anyways...

@CodandChips: I'd imagine the selectors wont see past Stokes for quite some time now. Woakes may have blown his chances against New Zealand (and I don't necessarily think that's fair at all).

Posted by JG2704 on (February 9, 2014, 20:23 GMT)

@CodandChips on (February 9, 2014, 9:59 GMT) I would see CM as an all rounder - bowling being the stronger suit , but I wouldnt say he's anywhere near Woakes or Stokes. TBH I wouldn't have even thought of him as a Lions possibility as it stands

I thought I responded to the other post but regardless I've always been a supporter of Woakes in 4/5 day cricket and as I've said before I'd have had him going to the Ashes in Aus ahead of Stokes. If they were to play a 5/1/5 formation he could do well but I dont think he'd do it in a 6/1/4 formation. Re why not? You're asking the wrong person and unfortunately ECB dont like answering too many questions

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (February 9, 2014, 13:45 GMT)

Generally speaking you can not go wrong by adding onions.

They have a long way to go before they get the recipe right because it seems to be pretty much the same old dish they will be serving up. They must throw the old cook book away and start afresh. This is England's only hope at proving a palatable offering

Posted by CodandChips on (February 9, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

@JG2704 Surely if Meschede is to be an allrounder, he has a lot of competition from the likes of Woakes, Stokes, Borthwick, Willey, Chris Wood. Also you've got to be careful because he could go down the route of Woakes, Stokes and Borthwick of strengthening the weaker suit at the expense of the strong suit.

Speaking of the young allrounders, here's a repost from another thread you may have missed

agree Stokes' performances have been overstated. He is a bits-and pieces player. Has stood out because the rest of the palyers have been so poor. On Woakes, his first class stats are marginally better than Stokes I think. He is also referred to as a "green-top bowler", but he plays at Edgbaston, which is known to be a seamer's graveyard. His batting has improved nicely, perhaps at the expense of his bowling. But he could still merit a place as a batsman, who bowls with decent control? If Stokes needs a rest, what's wrong with trying another young allrounder. Useful to know backups.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 8, 2014, 21:30 GMT)

@ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 8, 2014, 17:59 GMT) Re Meschede - I'd say definitely no at this stage.He only played 9 matches last season in a side which struggled. He could yet develop but I think he needs to improve his batting to get near the side. Interestingly his batting average last year was worse than his career average but his bowling average was significantly better. I always say the benchmark to strive for as an all rounder is have your bowling average less than your batting average or as near as possible to it and Craig's bowling-batting average needs to close Onions should have been there. The squad bowling selection was a joke. I and others said so at the time and worse was the lankies went pretty much unused. Even if Onions wasn't there they should have had a bowler of his type there. Onions has had a raw deal IMO as he has been Mr Consistent on the county circuit season after season.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 8, 2014, 17:59 GMT)

@JG2704: any thoughts on Craig Meschede for a chance in the Lions?

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 8, 2014, 16:32 GMT)

I would still choose Onions over all of the other injury-prone potentials that England Lions have toyed with of late. Agree with CodandChips that Jordan has probably done enough recently to keep at least one foot through the door of the selector's vault, but personally I'd still have Onions as first choice in tests for the question-marked seamer's spot. I'm not for one minute going to suggest that the Ashes result would have been different had Onions played, but he was perhaps one of the most deserving players to have been given a chance - way ahead of the lanks that flopped big time. The word "Finally" in the title of this article is well deserved. I just pray that Onions' form and confidence have not been dented by his previous snubbing, and that the coaches haven't destroyed his action/rhythm as per poor Finn-knee...

Posted by RandyOZ on (February 8, 2014, 13:11 GMT)

You know the talent is think if this guy is still getting selected. Now that they have dumped their best player and are bringing in journeymen like this, there is big trouble for the United XI

Posted by markatnotts on (February 8, 2014, 12:25 GMT)

My 11 would be very similar to CodandChips for SL in England. Though I would be concerNed about Root opening at the moment!

Posted by markatnotts on (February 8, 2014, 12:23 GMT)

I hope Onions gets another go. He has a good record for someone who plays here and there for England. Worrying about Woods, and I totally agree with yorkshire-86. All Michael Holding did were a few bench press sets for upper body strength and lots of interval running. I am a runner and only do a small amount of resistance training!

Posted by milepost on (February 8, 2014, 11:56 GMT)

Leaving him out of the Ashes was just another horrendous blunder on Andy Flower's CV.

Posted by CodandChips on (February 8, 2014, 11:23 GMT)

Worrying amount of injuries.

Good luck Onions

My favourite young quick is Jordan. Deserves a test spot.

1.Cook 2.Root 3.Bell 4.Taylor 5.Ali 6.Davies 7.Stokes/Woakes/Borthwick 8.Broad 9.Jordan 10.Anderson/Onions 11.Kerrigan

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (February 8, 2014, 11:12 GMT)

Surely now they must know that thier 'strength and conditioning' course is utter garbage? You dont have to be bulked up to bowl a cricket ball fast. In fact it is hindering them - the extra bulk gained from these programmes makes running harder on the back, knees and ankles, while muscle size has nothing to do with how fast and technically correct you can swing your arm in a circle. All the work that needs to be done is fitness training of the legs. Leave the bowlers to bowl the way they naturally do, all you need to coach them is things like ball position (for swing), line and length, run up and release point ect.

Posted by sussexsunrisers on (February 8, 2014, 11:08 GMT)

One person I would like to see given a chance in the longer form of the game, having acquitted himself pretty we'll in limited overs cricket is Chris Jordan. He was the MVP of county cricket last year and had to bowl for half his games on a pretty docile Hove track. He offers a bit more genuine pace and bounce than some of the other candidates, an ability to swing the ball, some batting ability, good slip hands and clearly a nous for international cricket. With Stokes already cementing his position as a genuine all rounder with serious bowling ability and Moenne Ali in contention for a test spot, I think England could afford to gamble on Jordan against Sri Lanka.

Posted by northumbriannomad on (February 8, 2014, 10:24 GMT)

Another triumph for the ECB's "strength through joy" - sorry, "strength and conditioning" programme for turning fit young fast bowlers into injured young medium-pace bowlers who might possibly look slightly more convincing on a calendar. Steven Finn has never been the same since he was on it, and now the same has happened to Wood. They haven't got a clue.

Posted by waldinho1 on (February 8, 2014, 10:16 GMT)

RICHARD Willey??? ;)

Is there a problem here with the way we treat our fast bowlers then? Could this be related to why there's been no new quicks really challenging the established test bowlers for quite some time now?

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