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Onions' return brings genuine joy

Posted in England v West Indies 2012

Graham Onions

Graham Onions celebrates the second of his three wickets at Edgbaston today

At times, sport can break hearts. On other occasions, it leaves you with the warmest of feelings.

When Graham Onions strode into the Edgbaston media lounge this evening, the smile on his face told you all you needed to know.

Here was a man whose career had appeared in ruins, a serious back injury having left him wondering whether he would be able to play cricket at the highest level again.

After representing England with distinction in eight Tests between May 2009 and January 2010, Onions was forced to endure a painful absence from the game he loves.

Attempts to regain fitness through rest proved unsuccessful and, ultimately, a major operation, which involved the insertion of a titanium pin into the Durham seamer’s back, was required.

There were dark days, of course, as Onions embarked on the long road to recovery. But by the summer of 2011, he was among the wickets again for his county, and a call-up to the England Lions squad followed. Suddenly, his dream of returning to international cricket was alive again.

Onions has since been part of the national set-up on a number of occasions, yet only today, in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, did he finally get the opportunity to pull on an England shirt again.

In returning 3-56 from 24 largely accurate overs, the 29-year-old did as much as anyone to hamper West Indies’ progress after Andrew Strauss had elected to bowl first.

However, while his performance, particularly given the pressure he admitted to feeling on his return, was impressive, Onions had achieved his main goal by simply setting foot on the field.

“All the hard work I did in the gym was just to play one more Test,” he explained. “Today was really special.”

They were words to bring a smile to any face. Right now, as far as I am concerned, sport is wonderful.