Injured Onions to miss Bangladesh Tests
Graham Onions has been withdrawn from England's two-Test series in Bangladesh, and will fly home on Friday after failing to recover from a back injury.
Onions arrived in Bangladesh last week as a specialist seamer for the Test series, but has been unable to train properly since suffering the injury while the squad was still in Dhaka. Yesterday, he was officially ruled out of contention for the first Test in Chittagong, but with no signs of his condition easing the decision was taken to send him home.
"Unfortunately I will be going home," said Onions. "If I'm being totally honest, I'm not exactly 100% sure what the problem is because I had an MRI scan and nothing came up on that. Hopefully it's just a case of having five to seven days complete rest to get myself ready, but when you are on a tour, you only have two weeks to make an impression. Unfortunately I have run out of time, so the best thing for me is to get myself home and get myself ready for the English summer.
"I got off a long-haul flight and just wanted to try and get myself as well-prepared as I possibly could for the first day of the Test, even the warm-up game, but unfortunately two days in, I felt a bit of a niggle [in the nets]. Now I'm travelling home and I'm very disappointed."
"Of course it's frustrating. Whenever you come on tour - and especially because this is just my second tour - you are always looking to make an impression. Obviously with me coming in and looking to make that impression, I want to play and this is very disappointing. But I've just got to forward positively to the English summer now."
England captain Alastair Cook said it was a blow but is confident the squad have the depth to cover. "I'm desperately disappointed for him," he said. "He was a huge part of our plans and he still is, obviously, because of the way he bowled in South Africa, where he was unlucky not to take more wickets than he did.
"He bowled really well there, and I was expecting him come to these conditions and bowl well here as well. But these things happen, and luckily we've got the strength in depth in our seam-bowling unit to be able to cope."
Cook was nevertheless confident of a quick recovery for Onions, and looked forward to having him fit again in time for the return series against Bangladesh, which gets underway in May.
"The MRI scan didn't show too much structural damage so it does look like a short-term thing," he said. "But these matches come so quickly, and he hasn't had any proper bowling on this tour, so we couldn't see how, physically, he could be ready. If he was fit, he wouldn't be match-fit to play in the next Test match, so there's obviously no point in him being here."
England are, however, more confident of the progress of Stuart Broad's recovery from his own back spasm, which he suffered midway through the second ODI in Dhaka last week. He came through unscathed from a tough nets session on Wednesday, and is ready to undergo a final assessment from the team's medical staff.
"We are very positive from yesterday," said Cook. "He bowled really well in the nets, for 10 or 12 overs in two spells, which was a very encouraging sign. Today is the second part of that process of a fitness test. We'll see how he is this morning, how he bowls, and obviously if he comes through that, it's excellent news for us."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.