08 May 2009

Onions writes his own headlines

Graham Onions is now more than just a good county cricketer with an unusual surname. The headline writer’s dream gave the scribes plenty of ammunition in taking five wickets on debut and more importantly staked a strong claim for a fast bowling place for the rest of the summer.

Early season wickets have been a false dawn for some England bowlers of recent years. Richard Johnson and Ed Giddins decimated Zimbabwe in helpful conditions but struggled against better opposition and England supporters should not necessarily expect Onions to be prolific against Australia later in the summer.

However, Onions has the right attributes to succeed at Test level in the long-term. He is sharp enough at around 85mph, accurate and capable of hitting the seam. He also has the right mental make-up to flourish, having recovered from a golden duck with the bat and seeing his first ball disappear for four.

Onions utilised the Lord’s slope well, recognising his wicket-to-wicket action did not require extravagant swing movement to make an impact, much as Glenn McGrath has done at headquarters down the years.

The Aussie legend is a good man to be compared to, but Onions knows he will encounter pitches that are less helpful than the ones at Lord’s and Chester-le-Street which do some of the work for the bowler.

Graham Onions offers something different to swing expert James Anderson and hit-the-deck Stuart Broad and with Andrew Flintoff and Ryan Sidebottom in the wings, as well as the not-yet-required Tim Bresnan, England’s fast bowling stocks suddenly look plentiful. Steve Harmison and Amjad Khan are now a long way from a recall.

Taking 20 wickets has been England’s main problem in recent years and although they know tougher tests await than West Indies, they at least can be comfortable that they have a bowling attack that can capitalise on helpful conditions. Onions is now very much part of that attack.

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