Graham Onions is in many ways the ideal man to have a bit of a bowl at an Australian when the Ashes start on Wednesday.
The Durham player has swing, pace, form and bowls particularly well to left-handed batsmen – and the Aussies have plenty of them, especially in their top order.
Chances are, though, Onions will be left out the XI for Trent Bridge, but the fact he is there at all is testament to the Gateshead lad’s work ethic and determination when at one stage it looked as if he had bowled his last over.
It was not so long ago the 30-year-old feared his time in cricket had come to an end and his successful battle back to the top has been an inspiration to his county.
Durham’s acting head coach Jon Lewis said: “Just Graham being with England is huge considering where he was two years ago.
“We are all delighted for him and very proud.
“He had a lot of time out with career-threatening injury and while Graham would be the first to say he got great support from the medical staff at Durham it was him doing all the work to get back. Nobody else put in the graft.”
The injury Lewis speaks of was a back problem picked up in March 2010 which eventually required surgery.
It is not uncommon for fast bowlers to fail to recover fully from such a procedure.
It has taken time for Onions to get back to where he was.
He has not played for England in over a year – his last Test appearance was against West Indies at Edgbaston in June 2012.
Onions, however, has been in sparkling form for his county and Lewis is quite happy his man will be missing from Durham’s line-up to play Derbyshire in the County Championship today. He added: “Graham has been outstanding for us over a period of time.
“I would love him to get a game come Wednesday. He deserves it.
“I’m delighted for him he has himself back into the Test squad. The guy deserves it for all the work he’s put in.
“I’m not surprised he’s impressed the selectors. He wouldn’t let anyone down. It would be great for ourselves not to see him bowl in an Ashes series. He’s bowling fast and well for us and has been for some time.”
Another Ashes star Paul Collingwood will miss Durham’s LV County Championship match against struggling Derbyshire with a thumb injury.
Mark Stoneman will lead the team in his absence.
It’s back to the red ball and long form of the game today at the Emirates ICG after a fortnight of T20 cricket which ended disappointingly – Friday’s defeat at Leicestershire followed by an eight-wicket defeat to Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
Stoneman’s first Twenty20 half-century was overshadowed by the Outlaws’ Michael Lumb , who hit 14 fours and three sixes in a 53-ball stay – falling just four runs short of a century.
Lewis would love to be able to say his players find the transition from 20 overs to playing over four days is easy, but he can’t.
He said: “We have had a day to get some practice in with the red ball again and it’s not time at all.
“Asking the players to go from T20 to the County Championship is difficult. I feel for them.
“We’ve had to do our red ball practice in midweek, between T20 games, which is not ideal.
“We are playing with more or less the same players and asking an awful lot from them.
“A one-day turnover isn’t long enough, if we are being honest.”
Durham face a Derbyshire team today who are without a win and bottom of the table.
So the home side will go into the game heavy favourites to take maximum points if the weather holds.
DURHAM SQUAD: Mark Stoneman (c), Keaton Jennings, Scott Borthwick, Will Smith, Ben Stokes, Michael Richardson, Phil Mustard, Gordon Muchall, Gareth Breese, Mark Wood, Callum Thorp, Chris Rushworth, Jamie Harrison.