DURHAM paceman Graham Onions hailed the “tremendous effort” put in by his team-mates after they failed agonisingly to clinch victory in the opening match of their title defence at Northampton.

The hosts’ last pair survived for nine overs to clinch a draw but Onions felt Durham had also been thwarted by the Wantage Road pitch.

“For this time of year it was one of the best pitches I’ve played on,” he said. “We pushed hard throughout, but it was tough and we are pretty sore after all the effort we put in.

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“We are disappointed but Paul Collingwood said straight afterwards that if we maintain that sort of standard we will not be far away.”

Onions led the attack impressively yesterday, taking three wickets after recording figures of one for 86 in the first innings.

“I didn’t bowl as well as I would have liked in the first innings, but I felt I improved and I got the ball to reverse swing a bit today,” he said.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work in over the winter and I’m desperate to play for England. Scott Borthwick won’t be far away. People don’t give him enough credit for his batting and he’s the best slip fielder I’ve seen in our side.

“I thought we were in the box seat when he bowled Maurice Chambers with a lovely googly to make it two wickets in two balls.”

During his nine-over vigil, last man Mohammad Azharullah seemed to offer one half chance to Onions at leg slip off Borthwick.

But Onions said: “The ball had bounced and the umpire said he wouldn’t have given him out.”