Write us off at your peril - Onions
Graham Onions believes England’s victory on his one-day international debut can provide the team with the momentum required to reach the latter stages of the Champions Trophy.
Despite suffering a 6-1 NatWest Series defeat by Australia, England’s avoidance of a 7-0 whitewash at the Riverside last weekend has reminded them what victory feels like after a gruelling start to September.
They will now face Group B rivals Sri Lanka, hosts South Africa and New Zealand in day-night matches over the next week, in the knowledge they will probably have to win twice to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.
Although he was first selected in an England one-day party more than three years ago, Sunday’s four-wicket win was 27-year-old Onions’ first ODI, and he said: “That result can be massive.
“We played well the other day. People may say we scraped home but we battled to a victory and that was very important. We knew we needed to get on to a little bit of a roll and we have just got that ball rolling now.
“As players you don’t want to get beaten 7-0 and a whitewash being on the cards attracts attention, but in our meetings we didn’t talk about that at all.
“If you are thinking like that you are probably already thinking a bit negatively, so we talked purely about going out there and expressing our ability. We had done that in patches but not for long enough and it was great to eventually get that win.”
Andrew Strauss’ team are attempting to win England’s first global prize but they are hamstrung by the absence of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen by injury.
Their loss has meant new faces getting their chance this summer, including Onions, in a bid to find a winning formula in limited-overs cricket.
“We want to go out there and win every game that we play,” said Onions, following England’s arrival in Johannesburg.
“If we are totally honest we under-performed as a team against Australia. But you also have to remember that Australia, if not the best, are one of the best teams in the world at both Test match and one-day cricket.
“You are always learning. You always want to improve. You always want to get better.
“We have got a lot of inexperience - I made my debut on Sunday, Joe Denly has only played five games and Eoin Morgan has played a few for Ireland but not many for England - even though there are some very talented, good-quality players who want to make a difference for England.
“Of course, we want to improve, we want to learn and, being realistic, we got beaten 6-1 by Australia, so we know where we stand.
“But the reason these people are in our one-day side is because they are the best one-day players we have got in the country.
“We know if we play anywhere near our best we have a great chance of going through to the next stage in this competition.
“Write us off at your peril. If people have been doing that it is a massive gamble, because we feel as though if we play the cricket we know we are capable of there is no reason we can’t compete against the best players in the world.”
The Durham fast bowler is now considered among the best in the business after being named on the shortlist in the Emerging Player of the Year category ahead of next month’s International Cricket Council’s annual awards.
“It is a little bit surreal for me,” admitted Onions. “It has been a brilliant year for me. Now I have got people like (Sachin) Tendulkar stopping in the same hotel.
“You just want to get going, to play against these guys and that is what the talk was about when we were running around the field today at our first training session.
“I am absolutely loving the journey so far, and long may it continue. I would like to think I will not change as a person whether I go on to play 100 Tests or 10.
“I will definitely play each game as though it’s my last and that is the best way to do it. Because if you go out there thinking, ‘I’ve signed a central contract - it doesn’t really matter for a while’, it doesn’t work.
“I want to play for England and make a difference, and for me to make a difference I need to be fit, strong and take wickets.
“If I win a trophy it is because I wanted to help us win the Ashes. That was my main priority: to try to win games for England.”
England’s first full net session will take place tomorrow with Luke Wright and Stuart Broad expected to confirm their availability after toe and knee injuries respectively.