England news March 23, 2010

Graham Onions injury worse than feared

Cricinfo staff

Graham Onions faces an extended period on the sidelines after the back injury which forced him to leave the Bangladesh tour proved to be more serious that first thought. He now has a battle to be fit for Bangladesh's return visit with the series starting at the end of May.

The ECB had asked Durham to take Onions, who is a centrally contracted player, with them to Abu Dhabi for their floodlit match against MCC but he will now remain in England for further treatment and is unlikely to make the start of Durham's Championship defence on April 15.

"He came back from Bangladesh with a back injury, which they initially thought was a minor complaint," Geoff Cook, the Durham coach, told the Journal. "X-rays, though, have shown it is a bit more serious and he has gone for another set of scans. He may be out for a month, he may be out for a month or two."

"We have not been able to identify the exact cause of the problem," Cook added. "He had another scan over the weekend and we are waiting for the results. It is disappointing he probably won't be fit for the start of the season, especially for Graham as he has international aspirations. I am sure it is also a concern for England because they were starting to pull a bowling group together."

Will Smith, the Durham captain, had earlier told Cricinfo he hoped to have Onions available for the start of the season but now it appears he won't have the luxury of the added firepower during the opening weeks of the summer. Smith, though, believes Onions has a key part to play in England's bowling attack.

"When he did play I don't think he did a great deal wrong and was unlucky not to play the last Test in South Africa and he has done himself proud this winter," he said. "The more we see him the better for us, of course, but for Graham's career I would love to see him playing for England as much as he can."

It has been a difficult few months for Onions after he was surprisingly left out of the final Test against South Africa, at Johannesburg, when the management felt he was fatigued. This was despite him having bowling impressively, but without luck, during the first three Tests and twice surviving the last over at Centurion and Cape Town to secure thrilling draws.

With James Anderson rested for the tour of Bangladesh he had been earmarked for a recall, but arrived for the trip with his back problem and when it didn't improve ahead of the first Test at Chittagong he was sent home.

Meanwhile, Onions' county team-mate Liam Plunkett will leave Bangladesh a day early after experience discomfort in his elbow. He will be assessed back in England and may yet link up with Durham in Abu Dhabi for the MCC match which starts on March 29. Plunkett's winter has been spent on the sidelines with just one international appearance in the third one-day against Bangladesh.