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The Lowdown - Graham Onions

A solution to England's one-day pickle?

The Lowdown on Graham Onions, who has been drafted into England's one-day squad

Andrew McGlashan

September 6, 2006

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With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In this weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news, whether at the highest level or as an aspiring talent, and tell you what they are all about. This week, it's the turn of 23-year-old Graham Onions, the latest recruit to England's struggling one-day team.



Graham Onions has had limited experience in domestic one-day cricket but has been handed a chance with England © Getty Images
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It is hard to say at the moment whether a call-up to England's one-day squad is a reward or a punishment. But for those bowlers who enjoy a challenge there is a chance to earn a winter away at the Champions Trophy, VB Series and ultimately the World Cup. The latest to try the England one-day kit for size is Graham Onions, the Durham seamer and headline writer's dream, who had already found a spot in the 30-man Champions Trophy squad.

Plenty of young seamers (and the odd older one too) have been given a chance, with some already falling by the wayside, and Onions certainly has some large bowling boots to fill after being drafted in following Darren Gough's shin injury. Gough has 554 wickets in List A cricket from 389 matches; Onions has 18 in 20 matches. And it certainly isn't his one-day form this season which has earned him selection - he played one C&G match, going wicketless, and his four Pro40 games brought two wickets (both against Warwickshire last week) at 70.

However, this isn't to say the England selectors have completely lost their marbles. Onions's first-class season is what has caught the attention, with 47 wickets in 13 Championship matches at 29. He has a followed a similar path to his team-mate, Liam Plunkett, who came up on the blindside last summer and finished by touring the subcontinent in the winter. Onions is a similar type of bowler to Plunkett, with the ability to bowl at decent pace, but probably hits the pitch slightly harder. Martyn Moxon, the Durham coach, has said Onions's lack of one-day action is more out of a desire not to over-bowl him.

Good judges of the game, including Michael Atherton, have been impressed by their early glimpses of him and have even suggested he might be worth a place in the Ashes squad as the stand-by seam bowler. What Onions's selection has confirmed is that Durham is a hot-bed for pace-bowling talent. Steve Harmison led the way, followed by Plunkett and now Onions meaning, potentially, there could be three quick men from the North East featuring this winter and another, Paul Collingwood, in the batting.

It helps that they've had some spicy Chester-le-Street wickets to bowl on, but Onions's success has not just come at home, as his career-best at Lord's shows. His rise has been rapid - he only debuted two years ago - but they have the knack of spotting talent and giving them a run at Durham. An England one-day international may be a poisoned chalice at the moment but, one thing's for certain, if Onions is a success, the tabloid newspapers won't be able to get enough of his name.



Onions is the latest bowler to be thrown in at the deep end of England's one-day woes © Getty Images
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Timeline

1998
Started playing cricket at the age of 16.

2000
Spotted by Geoff Cook, Durham's director of cricket, playing for Gateshead Fell Cricket Club, but his career nearly ended before it had begun when he suffered a double stress fracture of his shin.

2003
Signs his first professional contract with Durham.

April 2004
County Championship debut against Derbyshire.

October-March 2004
Plays for South Perth CC in Western Australia.

July 2006
Takes his career-best haul of 5 for 45 against Middlesex, at Lord's.

August 2006
Named in England's Champions Trophy squad of 30 and called up to the one-day squad to face Pakistan.

What he says
"It's unbelievable really. If someone had said at the start of the season that I'd be representing my country I would have laughed at them, but it's a great opportunity for me. I've always been desperate to play for my country and I've put a lot of hard work in the winter and it's paid off now - I just didn't think I'd get here as quickly as I have."

What they say - Durham coach Martyn Moxon
"It's great for Graham's performances to be noticed by the England selectors. He has worked incredibly hard to get where he is and deserves to do well especially after performing consistently well throughout the season."

What you may not know
Onions received congratulations from Badminton England after his call-up to the one-day squad. Onions is a Badminton England member, having played at Under-17 level, and a former Tyne and Wear junior, who represented them in the Inter-County Tournament. He has also played for the Durham first team.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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