Graham Onions relishing the Ashes at Durham

Though England have already retained the Ashes, excitement abounds ahead of the fourth Test at the Emirates ICG

Graham Onions looks on during England practice at the Emirates Durham ICG
Graham Onions looks on during England practice at the Emirates Durham ICG

He was asked, inevitably, about Kevin Pietersen, silicone tape and allegations surfacing of underhand batting secrets, and dismissed it all as “crazy”.

“England don’t cheat,” he said, adding a technophilic thumbs-up to DRS. He was not drawn on Monty Panesar’s nightlife, Graeme Swann et al’s fag breaks or his former club Gateshead Fell’s imminent relegation clash at South Shields.

Yesterday, all Graham Onions wanted to talk about was tomorrow.

And he might yet not play.

Though England have already retained the Ashes, excitement abounds ahead of the fourth Test at the Emirates ICG.

After nine Tests, the 30-year-old Durham star admits to “frustration” at not having played more and a “massive burning desire” to further his England career.

Nine wickets at Middlesex over last weekend proved his readiness.

And with the match taking place on his “special” home ground – creating a “buzz” among “proud and passionate” locals – Onions says it would be “fantastic” should he get the nod on Friday morning.

“It would be amazing, this is a special ground for me,” he said.

“I’ve obviously played all my cricket here, and my record here is pretty good. It’s generally known as a seamer-friendly wicket. I don’t think that’s completely fair because you have to bowl well and do all the things you need to do on any kind of wicket.

“On Friday, if I was to be picked, I’d certainly know where to bowl because I’ve played a lot of games here and bowled a lot of overs, which I love doing.

“But to get into this side is hard work. I’m in the squad, so obviously I’m up for selection and it would be amazing. As a young boy I’ve grown up here and played all my cricket here.

“You get a buzz coming into the ground. It’s a bit different to a normal Durham game and it’d be fantastic to play for England on Friday. It’s a significant one being at home. I can almost hear the crowd now, if you know what I mean?

“In the North East people are proud and passionate about their sport, and it’s fantastic to have an Ashes Test here in Durham.

“I just want to play as much cricket as I can. In 2009 my career was nearly cut short with a bit of a bad back injury.

“I’ve just trained as hard as I possibly can and done everything I can to make my way back for Durham, which I’ve done, and then try and work my way into this England side.”

That route has often been blocked by England’s strong bowling unit, but Onions remains as philosophical about his situation as he is determined to take what opportunities arise.

“I’m not going to lie, it is frustrating,” he said. “To perform quite well for Durham and not play that many Test matches is tough.

“The pinnacle is Test match cricket and playing for England, and I have a massive burning desire to do that.

“I’ve been blessed and very lucky to have played nine Test matches, and I’ll be doing everything I can to try to play on Friday and play as long as I possibly can.

“If that doesn’t happen and I don’t play another Test, then I can still walk away from the game very happy. But I’m desperate to keep on playing, and my job is to try to push these guys.

“I’m not wishing injury or loss of form on anybody, but eventually opportunities will come along and I have to make sure I’m ready and performing well for Durham so when I get into the England side, I can play well and stay there.”

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