Onions revels in Test return
Graham Onions reflected on a "special" day after taking three wickets on a return to Test cricket he feared may never arrive.
Durham paceman Onions was the pick of England’s attack at Edgbaston today as the third and final Test with West Indies finally got under way following two successive washouts.
Given an opportunity in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, Onions returned 3-56 from 24 overs to help restrict the tourists to 280 for eight.
Yet simply being on the field was enough to satisfy the 29-year-old, who, after recovering from a career-threatening back injury, was making his first international appearance since January 2010.
"A couple of years ago, I genuinely didn't think I was going to play cricket again," admitted Onions at the close.
"Sitting here today, after all that, just puts a massive smile on my face.
"All the hard work I did in the gym was literally just to play one more Test. So today was really, really special.
"When I put that shirt on and my cap on, it added to the nerves a little bit. But they were good nerves, and I really, really enjoyed it. It's like a second debut really."
Onions almost claimed a wicket in his third over, only for Ian Bell to spill a simple chance in the slips to reprieve Adrian Barath.
"I was thinking, ‘I’ve waited two years for that - just for that one moment there’, and Ian obviously dropped it," Onions explained.
Bell went on to put down Barath again, off Steven Finn, when he had 40 to his name, but Onions would not be denied and pinned the right-handed opener lbw in the next over.
"That first wicket back was special," he said. "Any Test wicket is, but to be playing for your country and this England side is even more so."
Onions engaged in a fierce battle with in-form Windies batsman Marlon Samuels, the duo exchanging words on more than one occasion.
"I can't even remember what I said. But it obviously touched a very raw nerve," Onions explained.
"There are no hard feelings at all, on my behalf. It brought out a couple of loose shots from him, so I suppose you could say it worked."
Samuels, who was eventually dismissed by Tim Bresnan for 76, admitted he enjoyed his verbal jousting with Onions, which prompted the Jamaican to point his bat in the seamer’s direction upon reaching 50.
"He has a few things to say, but I’m not interested. I don’t like onions. I don’t use it in my food," said Samuels with a smile.
"I have said in the press before that I enjoy it when people talk to me. I guess he wasn’t listening, so I hope this time, he listens."
Asked to explain the reasons behind his tremendous form on this tour, Samuels, who has now scored 386 runs in five innings, said: “The difference is that I am playing pretty consistent now.
"I have been through a lot. This is my time to enjoy myself; this is my time to shine.
"Two days down to rain, you can’t do anything about that. The focus and the dedication was still there for me. I just went out there to continue my good form and enjoy myself."