Onions sidelined for nine months
Graham Onions, the England pace bowler, will undergo surgery next week on a career-threatening back injury which will rule him out of action for up to nine months. He has been plagued by a stress fracture since returning from England's tour of Bangladesh in March and hasn't played for Durham this season, but until recently retained hope of making a late push for the Ashes squad.
A couple of months ago he was targeting a return to county action for the final few weeks of the season but when he bowled at Lord's recently, under the supervision of the ECB medical staff, he suffered a further reaction and now surgery has been ruled as his only option.
"Obviously I'm shattered to have been ruled out of the Ashes with the prospect of a lengthy recovery period," he said. "After experiencing the euphoria of being part of an Ashes-winning England team last year, I was determined to get myself fit for selection ahead of this winter's tour of Australia.
"Unfortunately that's not to be and, even though we have tried every possible form of treatment, surgery is the only option left. While I'm devastated to be facing such a long lay-off from cricket, I'm determined to overcome this setback and make sure I get back bowling again next year and work my way back into England calculations.
"It's been a difficult period for me but I realise that I have to have this operation if I want to play cricket again. I want to thank the ECB medical team for all their ongoing hard work and support."
Onions had enjoyed an impressive start to his international career with a five-wicket haul on debut against West Indies, at Lord's, in 2009 before playing in three of last year's Ashes Tests. However, his finest hours came with the bat when he twice denied South Africa victory during the winter series, fending off final overs from Makhaya Ntini at Centurion Park and Morne Morkel at Cape Town.
"Graham has been suffering from ongoing discomfort due to stress fractures on both sides of his back," Nick Peirce, the ECB chief medical officer, said. "We have thoroughly exhausted all avenues of conservative treatment and rehabilitation with surgery very much seen as a last resort.
"Unfortunately Graham has not responded to these forms of treatment and as a result we have no option left but to undertake a course of treatment involving surgery. The surgery Graham faces is a relatively significant operation and his rehabilitation will see him ruled out of all cricket for approximately up to nine months.
"His rehabilitation will be overseen and carried out by the ECB medical team in conjunction with the medical staff at Durham."