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Ashes preview: Onions hoping for 'greatest day' at Durham
7:00am Thursday 8th August 2013 in Sport
GRAHAM ONIONS admits it would be the “greatest moment of his career” if he was selected in the England side for the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street tomorrow morning.
Onions was part of the 13-man England squad that got their first taste of Emirates Durham ICG when they trained on the outfield yesterday afternoon, and is hoping the short turnaround from the third Test at Old Trafford will increase his chances of a recall.
With just three days between the third and fourth Tests, team director Andy Flower could opt to rest at least one of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan as England attempt to win the Ashes outright with one game to play.
Onions is up against Chris Tremlett for the role of first-choice replacement, and having made his first-class debut on Durham's home ground more than nine years ago, the Gateshead-born seamer admits there would be a powerful emotional significance if he was to make a tenth Test appearance on North-East soil.
“It would be amazing,” said Onions, who pressed his claims with nine Championship wickets against Middlesex after being omitted from England's third-Test squad. “To get into this side is hard work, but I'm in the squad and obviously up for selection, so it would be amazing.
“As a young boy, I've grown up here and played all my cricket here. You get a buzz just coming to the ground and it's already a bit different to a normal Durham game. It would be fantastic to play for England on Friday.
“I don't think I've necessarily singled this Test out, although it's a significant one being at home. I can almost hear the crowd already if you know what I mean.
“It will be special if I was to be picked, but it'll be special if I'm not because in the North-East, people are proud and passionate about their sport and it's fantastic to have an Ashes Test here in Durham.”
Onions' last Test appearance came in the third Test against the West Indies last summer, and tellingly, the 30-year-old's promotion coincided with the absence of Jimmy Anderson.
The pair are similar in style, employing conventional and reverse swing while maintaining a tight line and length, and Onions' best chance of being involved tomorrow could come if Anderson is rested now the Ashes have been retained.
The Tynesider was an integral part of the England side that won the Ashes in 2009, memorably taking two wickets with the opening two balls of the second day of the third Test at Edgbaston, and while his career stalled significantly as a result of a career-threatening back injury in 2010, he has been frustrated at his lack of international action in the last couple of years.
“I'm not going to lie, it is frustrating,” he said. “To perform quite well for Durham and not play that many Test matches is tough. The pinnacle is Test match cricket and playing for England, and I have a massive burning desire to do that.
“I've been blessed and very lucky to have played nine Test matches, and I'll be doing everything I can to try to play on Friday and play as long as I possibly can. If that doesn't happen and I don't play another Test, then I can still walk away from the game very happy.
“I'm desperate to keep on playing, and my job is to try to push these guys. I'm not wishing injury or loss of form on anybody, but eventually opportunities will come along and I have to make sure I'm ready and performing well for Durham so when I get into the England side, I can play well and stay there.”
Having represented England against West Indies at Chester-le-Street in 2009, Onions has already followed in the footsteps of Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison, fellow Durham players who have also played Test cricket for England on their county ground.
Onions played with Collingwood on Tuesday night as Durham lost to Northamptonshire in the quarter-finals of the Friends Life t20, and the former England one-day captain told his county colleague to savour the experience no matter what happens tomorrow morning.
“I haven't spoken to Harmy in a while, but Colly just said to enjoy it,” said Onions. “He said to go out and enjoy it whatever happens.
“I didn't get picked in the squad at Old Trafford, but I went away took nine wickets in the last match, and I suppose that's why I've been recalled.
“If you're in the squad, you're up for selection and that's all you can do. Everyone knows what I can do, and I've got another day to try to push my claim even more for Friday.”
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