Onions raring to go
Graham Onions has revealed there were times when he thought his career was over during a 14-month injury lay-off, but he is now champing at the bit to get back into action.
Onions has been plagued by knee and back complaints since his last professional appearance in January 2010 and he was forced to undergo surgery on the latter in September, which was supposed to keep him sidelined for nine months.
Although the seamer is not quite ready to return to Durham’s line-up for their first LV= County Championship match of the season at Hampshire, he is very much ahead of schedule.
Onions was given the nod to start bowling again over a month ago but he is well aware he cannot afford to rush his recovery.
Speaking at the club’s media day at the Emirates Durham ICG, he said: “I’m hoping my body will hold up to the task and there’s no reason why it won’t. I got given the all-clear a month and a bit ago now. Structurally my back is all fine.
“The bones have healed absolutely fine as well, but when you’re putting eight times your body weight through your body when you bowl, it’s tough work.
“I haven’t done that in 14 months and I’ve got to appreciate that my body will get a bit stiff, a bit sore at times. But it’s knowing if it’s pain that’s going to stop me from playing or is that pain a little bit of stiffness.
“The only way I’m going to get the confidence of playing cricket is by actually playing and that’s the bottom line.”
Onions is set to feature for the second XI against Durham MCCU tomorrow, what he hopes will be another step on the road to recovery.
“It will be nice for me,” he said. “It’ll be my first game back so I’m obviously quite excited to play in that game.
“It’s a case of how I react the next day after bowling really. I’ve had two solid days here bowling on the square, which was fantastic and I feel absolutely fine.”
The 28-year-old, who had a pin put into the left-hand side of his back during his operation, admitted there were times when he questioned whether he would be able to play cricket again.
However, he refused to get too downbeat about his situation and instead decided to set achievable goals.
He said: “Over the last 14 months, I have thought to myself, ‘Am I going to be able to get back on the park and play?’. It’s a horrible place to be but I think you have to stay mentally strong.
“It’s exactly the same as when you’re playing - you need to try and focus on the game in hand, but in the winter I had a focus of the first game of the season against Hampshire and to try and get myself fit for there.”
Although he fell short of being available for the Rose Bowl clash starting on Friday, Onions is heartened by the fact that his ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries has not diminished.
The news will certainly please those hoping to see him in an England shirt again.
He said: “My skills of being able to bowl an inswinger and outswinger hasn’t gone, so technically everything’s fine.”
Onions is perhaps most fondly remembered for taking the wickets of Shane Watson and Mike Hussey with the first two balls of the second day in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2009, and one of his aims is to add to his eight Test caps.
He is under no illusions, though, as he needs to reassure everyone, including himself, that he is still the quality bowler he was more than a year ago.
“I want to play for England again,” he said. “That is in the back of my mind. I did some good things when I played for England and I performed pretty well.
“One thing which I do strongly believe is that when I get fit and I get strong I’ll be back in that side and I can make a big difference.
“I’m not going to kid myself; I need to do a lot of hard work and play for Durham. I need to do as much as I possibly can to get myself fit and strong before I even consider playing for England again.”