England news March 2, 2013

Onions' lack of form worrying for England

Graham Onions' lack of form has larger implications for England's fast-bowling reserves
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Few people leave Queenstown with bad memories - unless you are involved in the England rugby squad - but Graham Onions has not had a time to remember in the shadow of the Remarkables mountain range.

It was a chastening outing for him against the New Zealand XI as he ended with match figures of 1 for 213 from 38 overs. That included a two-over period in the first innings which cost 33, and another two-over spell that went for 23 in the second.

As the game wore on, during the final day, his shoulders slumped further and it was not nice viewing to see a bowler, who had worked so hard to give himself another England opportunity, visibly lose confidence. A significant part of his problem came from his delivery stride as he sent down 11 no-balls.

While it would be foolish, and premature, to write off the possibility of Onions having a sustained second chance at the international level, it is by no means certain that he will add to his nine caps - the most recent of which came against West Indies, at Edgbaston, last year. He had earned every right to be regarded as the next in line after a 2012 domestic season where he took 72 wickets at 14.73. Figures like those demanded attention.

It is not Onions' fault that there is only the one warm-up match in New Zealand, but he certainly did not grasp his opportunity to put pressure on Stuart Broad for the final bowling place. It was a similar tale for him in India, where his warm-up form was disappointing: if you add together his last two appearances in an England shirt (Queenstown and Ahmedabad against Haryana), his combined figures are 2 for 313.

It has been suggested on the domestic circuit in England that Onions has lost some pace since his serious back injury. That would be no disgrace at all - it was career-threatening, and to see him just back on the field was a terrific story. Yet, at some stage, it may have to be acknowledged that a decline has occurred.

There was a good chance that if Onions had performed well against the New Zealand XI, he would have kept Broad out of the Test side for longer. He could, of course, just be out of form but watching his bowling first hand, it did appear a little more than that. This is an occasion where the England backroom staff will have to come into their own. Right now, if there was a late injury before Dunedin, it would be very difficult to pick Onions.

Which raises the question: there is an accepted stance at the moment that England's pace bowling stocks are well resourced, but does the evidence really support that? James Anderson and Steven Finn lead the line, but the latter has had some injury concerns. Broad is trying to resume a stalled Test career with no guarantee he will be able to string matches together with his troublesome heel and then what comes next is a little more uncertain, especially if Onions' problems are a sign of something more than just a dip in form.

Tim Bresnan is currently recuperating from a second elbow operation with an aim to being fit for the Champions Trophy. A continuation of his one-day career does not seem in too much doubt, but that cannot be said for Test cricket.

England have made a big play of the fact that there are a number of immediately interchangeable options for the full side. That does not necessarily ring true. Those names are ranked high on promise and low on experience, which is another reason Onions' faltering is an issue.

Chris Woakes was steady against the New Zealand XI, but does not yet appear a Test bowler and none of the quicks on the Lions tour of Australia (albeit on a trip consisting of solely 50-over cricket) have enjoyed a standout trip. Stuart Meaker and Toby Roland-Jones have plenty of time to forge international careers, while Reece Topley, Tymal Mills and the Overtons - Craig and Jamie - are worth watching this year. James Harris has been around the one-day squad, but England have made a big play of the fact that there are a number of immediately interchangeable options for the full side. That does not necessarily ring true. Those names are ranked high on promise, low on experience which is another reason Onions' faltering is an issue.

Much interest is being given to the recovery of Chris Tremlett from the knee and back injuries which restricted him to one Championship match last season. He has recently returned from a training camp in Potchefstroom and is on course to be ready for the start of the English summer. If all goes well, and he can play the majority of the season, then England would dearly like to have him for the Ashes in Australia. That, however, does not scream strength and depth.

It is the one area Australia are edging ahead. Their rotation policy is causing much angst, but they are creating a collection of fast bowlers to call on. Injuries notwithstanding, it can read: Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and, perhaps still, Ryan Harris.

Before the tour to India, the main concern for England was in the batting. Kevin Pietersen's return and Joe Root's emergence mean that someone as talented as Jonny Bairstow is on the sidelines, while James Taylor, who was in the middle order against South Africa, is back with the Lions. Now, in a year where fast-bowling resources, the experience of them and the durability, will play a key role there is just a sense that England's options are not quite as fulsome as 12 months ago.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GrumpiusMaximus on March 2, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    First of all, well played New Zealand XI. I've been following the match on the radio over the last few days and New Zealand XI's middle order has been superb, despite the flaky top order.

    The clincher though, has been Onions. It's so sad to see a bowler with that much talent and dedication finishing with figures like he has here. Without making too many snap judgements, I think he's been let down by the ECB and not given enough match time at first-class level. He's been carrying drinks for the Test side without a chance of bowling in the match; which is a great shame for someone of his ability.

    As for strength in depth? England certainly do have that assuming all their bowlers are fit. Tremlett is superb, Bresnan can be excellent, Finn and Anderson are World-Class (on form) and Broad on his day (I wish he had more of those) is great. So we have at least five quality seamers even without Onions. Fitness is the issue - not the reserves.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 2, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Considering he's been in awesome form for ages but hasn't been able to get a game due to England having so much depth to their talent pool, Onions's first lean period in years has come at a bad time for him. Woakes is the one knocking on the door the loudest, plus he's a great bat too. The truth is Onions just doesn't cut the mustard anymore.

  • SDHM on March 4, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Personally think it's partially a problem of England's own making - loyalty is a good thing, but when it was clear Broad & Bresnan were struggling I think the selectors took it too far; they were treated as almost undroppable. We're now left with a group of highly talented and exciting young seamers, but they have little to no experience at Test level. I highly doubt Woakes will get a game in New Zealand either (and unlike the author I feel he is far better suited to Tests than he is to limited overs cricket) which begs the question as to why these young bowlers are being called into the squads only to be ignored. The aforementioned loyalty is also probably what has done for Onions; he's been carried around by England taking out drinks and not actually bowling, is it any surprise he's gone downhill?

  • StoneRose on March 4, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    What a poor article, with a capital H for hyperbole. Onions had a bad game. Put that against an oustanding comeback season. Tim Bresnan has an elbow injury. He is in his mid-20s. Yet this article questions whether he will ever play Tests again. "Chris Woakes is not a Test bowler". Well how do you know when he hasn't played? Why are our selectors - who are a damn sight better than Australia's - picking him in the squad if he is not a Test bowler? He has experience of playing domestically in NZ after all. "Australia are edging ahead". Yet all the bowlers you mention are average at best, perhaps excepting Pattinson and Harris, but the latter is so injury prone he had to miss domestic T20 cricket.

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    @Shan156 on (March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT) - I think you're prob right. 12-18 months is a long time in cricket. Back along I'd have said we had great depth but while Jimmy has maintained his standards and Finn has improved - for varying reasons guys like Broad,Bres,Tremlett etc are not looking what they were

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (March 2, 2013, 18:38 GMT) -I think Aus pace attack will be a whole different proposition in England. I'm not sure about Mckay. I know he was decent in the ODI series but not sure how good he is in the longer format - basically because I don't know. Aus seem to be struggling in the spin dept which is why the look more inept vs India. You have to feel sorry for Mcgill (who was the 2nd spinner for much of the time when Warne was around) as he would be the premier spinner in the current Aus line up.

  • bumsonseats on March 3, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    not sure he has been ill treated by the ECB he has a a bad injury and after a long recuperation has made a steady come back. i don't think for the 1st test he was to be a consideration as long as broad came through the last game. i feel he has been unlucky but that goes with the territory. i think monty is still with the squad, that been so if swanny for some reason was missing for the next test monty goes in with no bowling since the 4th test against india

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 3, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke (post on March 3, 2013, 15:02 GMT): Of all the fast bowlers on Aus. production line, I was most impressed with Starc and maybe Bird. Now sadly even both these bowlers are on the injury list, and Pattinson... yes he did very well in the first test against India, but I'm just waiting for that headline on Cricinfo soon to come: "Pattinson ruled out of rest of series with [insert injury here]"...

    The likes of McKay would add some much-needed consistency and fitness to the Aus. bowling line-up; pace is nothing without these. Always believed Hauritz was treated awfully, and I'd have him over Beer/Doherty/Smith any day. Don't know enough about Stephen O'Keefe to comment, but let's face it - he can't be worse than any of the others trialled of late.

  • nzcricket174 on March 3, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Even as a Kiwi, it was difficult watching Onions fall apart. Its hard to believe it was the same man who took a stump for reward against the West Indies four years ago, having demolished them.

  • on March 3, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK Agree on theAussie bowlers. Watched them recently and they look very average to me. Yes a lot of "just" above average seamers added to the guys who England massacred a couple of years back (Siddle, Johnson, Hilfenhaus 700+ for 3) . If they think Stark or Pattinson replace Lee for instance, they are a long way short. Not even close. Watching Pattinson and Siddle run in and bowl so poorly today (Sehwag the only wicket to fall has been a comedy act for most of the past 3 years, almost a walking wicket and only playing due to mis-placed faith in hm by Indian selectors - He's rapidly becoming the Afridi of Indian batting boom- boom- all the way back to the pavilion). England are choosing among class seamers. Anderson, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan and sometimes Broad. The Aussies are building hype around the likes of Stark - who let's face it - has done nothing or Pattinson who today looked like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Yeah bring it on Oz - Bring it on

  • GrumpiusMaximus on March 2, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    First of all, well played New Zealand XI. I've been following the match on the radio over the last few days and New Zealand XI's middle order has been superb, despite the flaky top order.

    The clincher though, has been Onions. It's so sad to see a bowler with that much talent and dedication finishing with figures like he has here. Without making too many snap judgements, I think he's been let down by the ECB and not given enough match time at first-class level. He's been carrying drinks for the Test side without a chance of bowling in the match; which is a great shame for someone of his ability.

    As for strength in depth? England certainly do have that assuming all their bowlers are fit. Tremlett is superb, Bresnan can be excellent, Finn and Anderson are World-Class (on form) and Broad on his day (I wish he had more of those) is great. So we have at least five quality seamers even without Onions. Fitness is the issue - not the reserves.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 2, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Considering he's been in awesome form for ages but hasn't been able to get a game due to England having so much depth to their talent pool, Onions's first lean period in years has come at a bad time for him. Woakes is the one knocking on the door the loudest, plus he's a great bat too. The truth is Onions just doesn't cut the mustard anymore.

  • SDHM on March 4, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Personally think it's partially a problem of England's own making - loyalty is a good thing, but when it was clear Broad & Bresnan were struggling I think the selectors took it too far; they were treated as almost undroppable. We're now left with a group of highly talented and exciting young seamers, but they have little to no experience at Test level. I highly doubt Woakes will get a game in New Zealand either (and unlike the author I feel he is far better suited to Tests than he is to limited overs cricket) which begs the question as to why these young bowlers are being called into the squads only to be ignored. The aforementioned loyalty is also probably what has done for Onions; he's been carried around by England taking out drinks and not actually bowling, is it any surprise he's gone downhill?

  • StoneRose on March 4, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    What a poor article, with a capital H for hyperbole. Onions had a bad game. Put that against an oustanding comeback season. Tim Bresnan has an elbow injury. He is in his mid-20s. Yet this article questions whether he will ever play Tests again. "Chris Woakes is not a Test bowler". Well how do you know when he hasn't played? Why are our selectors - who are a damn sight better than Australia's - picking him in the squad if he is not a Test bowler? He has experience of playing domestically in NZ after all. "Australia are edging ahead". Yet all the bowlers you mention are average at best, perhaps excepting Pattinson and Harris, but the latter is so injury prone he had to miss domestic T20 cricket.

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    @Shan156 on (March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT) - I think you're prob right. 12-18 months is a long time in cricket. Back along I'd have said we had great depth but while Jimmy has maintained his standards and Finn has improved - for varying reasons guys like Broad,Bres,Tremlett etc are not looking what they were

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (March 2, 2013, 18:38 GMT) -I think Aus pace attack will be a whole different proposition in England. I'm not sure about Mckay. I know he was decent in the ODI series but not sure how good he is in the longer format - basically because I don't know. Aus seem to be struggling in the spin dept which is why the look more inept vs India. You have to feel sorry for Mcgill (who was the 2nd spinner for much of the time when Warne was around) as he would be the premier spinner in the current Aus line up.

  • bumsonseats on March 3, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    not sure he has been ill treated by the ECB he has a a bad injury and after a long recuperation has made a steady come back. i don't think for the 1st test he was to be a consideration as long as broad came through the last game. i feel he has been unlucky but that goes with the territory. i think monty is still with the squad, that been so if swanny for some reason was missing for the next test monty goes in with no bowling since the 4th test against india

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 3, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke (post on March 3, 2013, 15:02 GMT): Of all the fast bowlers on Aus. production line, I was most impressed with Starc and maybe Bird. Now sadly even both these bowlers are on the injury list, and Pattinson... yes he did very well in the first test against India, but I'm just waiting for that headline on Cricinfo soon to come: "Pattinson ruled out of rest of series with [insert injury here]"...

    The likes of McKay would add some much-needed consistency and fitness to the Aus. bowling line-up; pace is nothing without these. Always believed Hauritz was treated awfully, and I'd have him over Beer/Doherty/Smith any day. Don't know enough about Stephen O'Keefe to comment, but let's face it - he can't be worse than any of the others trialled of late.

  • nzcricket174 on March 3, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Even as a Kiwi, it was difficult watching Onions fall apart. Its hard to believe it was the same man who took a stump for reward against the West Indies four years ago, having demolished them.

  • on March 3, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK Agree on theAussie bowlers. Watched them recently and they look very average to me. Yes a lot of "just" above average seamers added to the guys who England massacred a couple of years back (Siddle, Johnson, Hilfenhaus 700+ for 3) . If they think Stark or Pattinson replace Lee for instance, they are a long way short. Not even close. Watching Pattinson and Siddle run in and bowl so poorly today (Sehwag the only wicket to fall has been a comedy act for most of the past 3 years, almost a walking wicket and only playing due to mis-placed faith in hm by Indian selectors - He's rapidly becoming the Afridi of Indian batting boom- boom- all the way back to the pavilion). England are choosing among class seamers. Anderson, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan and sometimes Broad. The Aussies are building hype around the likes of Stark - who let's face it - has done nothing or Pattinson who today looked like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Yeah bring it on Oz - Bring it on

  • SirViv1973 on March 3, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    I do worry a little about our lack of depth. I think Broad will be fine and i'm happy with him Jimmy & Finn as the 3 seamers but with 10 ashes tests to come you would think that we do need at least one or probably 2 more viable options. I've never been totally convinced about Onions. I also worry about Woakes lack of pace particularly playing in Aus. The idea scenario would be a return to form & fitness for Bres & Tremlett & maybe someone will impress in the early part of the county season & really put their hand up. If none of that happens then we could be in a bit of bother.

  • SirViv1973 on March 3, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    @Blink182alex, Bollinger apart that is a group of untested domestic level cricketers from Aus, There are as many bowlers playing for Eng county teams who are equally as good.

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    @Shan156 on (March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT) - I think you're prob right. 12-18 months is a long time in cricket. Back along I'd have said we had great depth but while Jimmy has maintained his standards and Finn has improved - for varying reasons guys like Broad,Bres,Tremlett etc are not looking what they were

  • landl47 on March 3, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    I'm currently watching Australia playing India and Moises Henriques is the third seamer. He's averaging around 132kph, a pace that makes Woakes, who has been averaging in excess of 135kph in NZ, look express. A side can only play a limited number of bowlers and batsmen and balance is important. The third seamer is required to be accurate and to pick up a few wickets. I'd suggest that England has quite a number of bowlers who meet that standard, many of whom are mentioned in this article.

    Australia's current crop of bowlers is very exciting, but many of them are untested or are injured. Cummins hasn't played a first-class game since November 2011, Bird is dealing with what will likely be a long recuperation, Hilf is out, Harris is always out. The names on blink182alex's list are totally raw except Bollinger, who is past his sell-by date.

    Onions might have missed the boat. Bad luck for him, but England will be OK.

  • bayth on March 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    While I agree with the article as a whole, it's inconsistent to questions England's bowlers' fitness and form, and then list Australia's depth of strength, 'injuries notwithstanding'. As you would have it, injuries notwithstanding, England's can read: Anderson, Finn, Broad, Tremlett, Bresnan, Onions, Woakes. All but one have several test caps and wickets. Australia's quicks have just as much, if not more, trouble with fitness and form as England's.

  • Shan156 on March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    While the first choice seam attack of England are better than Aus', when it comes to depth, I got to admit grudgingly that Aus' battery of pace bowlers edge England's. Come the Ashes, we cannot rely on the availability, due to form and/or fitness, of the first choice attack for 10 gruelling tests. So, while Aus. may not string together the same seam attack for b2b tests leave alone b2b Ashes, England, if deprived of Anderson or Finn, will have a fight on their hands. Hopefully, Onions will rediscover his form by then. He should be persisted with in the squad. Question marks hang over the fitness of Bresnan and Tremlett who played a big part in Eng's win down under last time. Whatever happened to Plunkett, Footit, JAR Harris, and others?

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 2, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Neither Onions nor Woakes have shown the best of their abilities unfortunately in NZ. Great that Broad has shown a glimmer of his old self, and hopefully he can maintain good form throughout the tests now. I would loved to have given Woakes and/or Onions a go, but I can fully understand the doubt that either will be tried for the first test now.

    I don't get all these lists of Australian bowlers and people using them for scare tactics against England. Over half the names on such lists are untested in tests at all, and most of them barely make it through a full ODI never mind potentially 5 days of hardcore test cricket! The most feared bowler for me that Australia totally ignore for tests is Clint McKay. He was outstanding in England last time I saw him and could be a nemesis to England's batsmen.

  • FieryFerg on March 2, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Hard not to feel sorry for Onions as he's been given no chance by the management. If they wanted him ready for a shoot-out with Broad in this game why has he been confined to nets? Would have been easy to pop across the Tasman and play a few real games for the Lions. There are a few in that squad that will never make the grade. As for the Aussies vaunted back up, after seeing a few this season I don't think many of them are as good as they're talked up to be. Coulter-Nile, etc are nothing too special. And remember all the hype with Pattinson - look at the last two out and out quicks Oz brought to England, Tait and Lee - their records stank on English pitches.

  • blink182alex on March 2, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    England's fully fit 1st eleven is still very strong but they don't have as good as strength in depth as the English media think they have.

    I remember Darren Gough saying that England's 2nd eleven would be 2nd in the test rankings when England beat India 4-0 to go top of the rankings. What a load of rubbish. Broad may have problems playing back to back tests for years now with his heel, Finn has had some injuries recently, Bresnan has been poor for 15 months, Tremlett has always had injury problems and now it seems Onions has lost a bit of nip to his bowling. Goes to show just how key Anderson is for England.

    As for Australia's depth in seam bowling, you can add Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Coulter-Nile, Cutting, McDermott, Hazlewood, Sandu, Faulkner, Joel Paris, Bollinger and Chad Sayers to the list of good fast bowlers that we have.

  • SamRoy on March 2, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    I think by playing Bresnan in a 4-man attack was one of the reasons which led to this chaos in the first place. He is a good 4th seamer, can be a decent third seamer, but if one of the other two lead fast bowlers have an off-test match and he is asked to lead the attack that's when the trouble comes. He could hustle and bustle, can reverse-swing, but just doesn't have enough quality. People will say he averages 32 but people forget he doesn't have to bowl at the top-order much. Statistics always don't tell the right story.

  • jmcilhinney on March 2, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    I don't think that there's much doubt that Australia have the edge in depth in fast bowling at the moment. A few mouthy England fans have had a bit to say about there having been so many injuries to Australian fast bowlers but England have had their fair share and probably haven't weathered it as well. Tremlett's been out for a long period with no guarantees of coming back 100%, Bresnan was below par for some time and not guaranteed to come back at 100%, Broad was below par for some time and is still not back to 100% and Onions looks like he may not have made it all the way back from his almost career-ending injury and Finn has also had his share of issues. There are plenty of exciting prospects in the county game but a great many are at least a year or two away from being ready for international cricket. Hopefully the first-choice bowlers can stay injury-free until some familiar faces return and/or some new faces mature.

  • on March 2, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    The bowling stocks at my county, Yorkshire, are a microcosm of the national scene. There is some proven experience alongside some very promising players struggling to translate their obvious talent. Brooks and Ashraf could make statements for England selection this year, but there is another to watch. It's make or break time for Liam Plunkett having moved to the White Rose during the winter. The ability to bowl at 90 mph from a high action is not to be sniffed at, but his attitude has been severely in question during his latter years at Durham. He's had a solid winter's prep in Australia and could make a push having been given a second chance.

    As the county season approaches and people begin to compile their "ones to watch" lists, I don't expect to see Plunkett's name on many of them, but if I had an outlet to produce one (!) he would be on mine.

  • on March 2, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    The bowling stocks at my county, Yorkshire, are a microcosm of the national scene. There is some proven experience alongside some very promising players struggling to translate their obvious talent. Brooks and Ashraf could make statements for England selection this year, but there is another to watch. It's make or break time for Liam Plunkett having moved to the White Rose during the winter. The ability to bowl at 90 mph from a high action is not to be sniffed at, but his attitude has been severely in question during his latter years at Durham. He's had a solid winter's prep in Australia and could make a push having been given a second chance.

    As the county season approaches and people begin to compile their "ones to watch" lists, I don't expect to see Plunkett's name on many of them, but if I had an outlet to produce one (!) he would be on mine.

  • jmcilhinney on March 2, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    I don't think that there's much doubt that Australia have the edge in depth in fast bowling at the moment. A few mouthy England fans have had a bit to say about there having been so many injuries to Australian fast bowlers but England have had their fair share and probably haven't weathered it as well. Tremlett's been out for a long period with no guarantees of coming back 100%, Bresnan was below par for some time and not guaranteed to come back at 100%, Broad was below par for some time and is still not back to 100% and Onions looks like he may not have made it all the way back from his almost career-ending injury and Finn has also had his share of issues. There are plenty of exciting prospects in the county game but a great many are at least a year or two away from being ready for international cricket. Hopefully the first-choice bowlers can stay injury-free until some familiar faces return and/or some new faces mature.

  • SamRoy on March 2, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    I think by playing Bresnan in a 4-man attack was one of the reasons which led to this chaos in the first place. He is a good 4th seamer, can be a decent third seamer, but if one of the other two lead fast bowlers have an off-test match and he is asked to lead the attack that's when the trouble comes. He could hustle and bustle, can reverse-swing, but just doesn't have enough quality. People will say he averages 32 but people forget he doesn't have to bowl at the top-order much. Statistics always don't tell the right story.

  • blink182alex on March 2, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    England's fully fit 1st eleven is still very strong but they don't have as good as strength in depth as the English media think they have.

    I remember Darren Gough saying that England's 2nd eleven would be 2nd in the test rankings when England beat India 4-0 to go top of the rankings. What a load of rubbish. Broad may have problems playing back to back tests for years now with his heel, Finn has had some injuries recently, Bresnan has been poor for 15 months, Tremlett has always had injury problems and now it seems Onions has lost a bit of nip to his bowling. Goes to show just how key Anderson is for England.

    As for Australia's depth in seam bowling, you can add Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Coulter-Nile, Cutting, McDermott, Hazlewood, Sandu, Faulkner, Joel Paris, Bollinger and Chad Sayers to the list of good fast bowlers that we have.

  • FieryFerg on March 2, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Hard not to feel sorry for Onions as he's been given no chance by the management. If they wanted him ready for a shoot-out with Broad in this game why has he been confined to nets? Would have been easy to pop across the Tasman and play a few real games for the Lions. There are a few in that squad that will never make the grade. As for the Aussies vaunted back up, after seeing a few this season I don't think many of them are as good as they're talked up to be. Coulter-Nile, etc are nothing too special. And remember all the hype with Pattinson - look at the last two out and out quicks Oz brought to England, Tait and Lee - their records stank on English pitches.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 2, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Neither Onions nor Woakes have shown the best of their abilities unfortunately in NZ. Great that Broad has shown a glimmer of his old self, and hopefully he can maintain good form throughout the tests now. I would loved to have given Woakes and/or Onions a go, but I can fully understand the doubt that either will be tried for the first test now.

    I don't get all these lists of Australian bowlers and people using them for scare tactics against England. Over half the names on such lists are untested in tests at all, and most of them barely make it through a full ODI never mind potentially 5 days of hardcore test cricket! The most feared bowler for me that Australia totally ignore for tests is Clint McKay. He was outstanding in England last time I saw him and could be a nemesis to England's batsmen.

  • Shan156 on March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    While the first choice seam attack of England are better than Aus', when it comes to depth, I got to admit grudgingly that Aus' battery of pace bowlers edge England's. Come the Ashes, we cannot rely on the availability, due to form and/or fitness, of the first choice attack for 10 gruelling tests. So, while Aus. may not string together the same seam attack for b2b tests leave alone b2b Ashes, England, if deprived of Anderson or Finn, will have a fight on their hands. Hopefully, Onions will rediscover his form by then. He should be persisted with in the squad. Question marks hang over the fitness of Bresnan and Tremlett who played a big part in Eng's win down under last time. Whatever happened to Plunkett, Footit, JAR Harris, and others?

  • bayth on March 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    While I agree with the article as a whole, it's inconsistent to questions England's bowlers' fitness and form, and then list Australia's depth of strength, 'injuries notwithstanding'. As you would have it, injuries notwithstanding, England's can read: Anderson, Finn, Broad, Tremlett, Bresnan, Onions, Woakes. All but one have several test caps and wickets. Australia's quicks have just as much, if not more, trouble with fitness and form as England's.

  • landl47 on March 3, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    I'm currently watching Australia playing India and Moises Henriques is the third seamer. He's averaging around 132kph, a pace that makes Woakes, who has been averaging in excess of 135kph in NZ, look express. A side can only play a limited number of bowlers and batsmen and balance is important. The third seamer is required to be accurate and to pick up a few wickets. I'd suggest that England has quite a number of bowlers who meet that standard, many of whom are mentioned in this article.

    Australia's current crop of bowlers is very exciting, but many of them are untested or are injured. Cummins hasn't played a first-class game since November 2011, Bird is dealing with what will likely be a long recuperation, Hilf is out, Harris is always out. The names on blink182alex's list are totally raw except Bollinger, who is past his sell-by date.

    Onions might have missed the boat. Bad luck for him, but England will be OK.

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    @Shan156 on (March 3, 2013, 3:02 GMT) - I think you're prob right. 12-18 months is a long time in cricket. Back along I'd have said we had great depth but while Jimmy has maintained his standards and Finn has improved - for varying reasons guys like Broad,Bres,Tremlett etc are not looking what they were