x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Onions heeds advice from Durham friends

At 26, the seamer has taken his time to arrive on the international stage but having taken five wickets on debut earlier in the summer, he is finally sensing that he belongs.

On the day where one of the North East of England's greatest sons passed away, how poignant it should be that a young man from Durham came to the fore. Sir Bobby Robson, a keen cricket fan and a supporter of the county in which he was born and bred, had cast his eye over the precociously talented Graham Onions on more than one occasion in years past.

While Robson is perhaps one of the most loved and revered sporting achievers to have come out of the region, Onions is yet to write his chapter in the history books. That particular tale holds much potential if yesterday's performance is anything to go by as Onions, and the impressive James Anderson, combined to bowl out Australia at Edgbaston. At 26, Onions has taken his time to arrive on the international stage but having taken five wickets on debut against the West Indies at Lord's earlier in the summer, he is finally sensing that he belongs.

Two wickets in the opening two balls of the day set the tone for England as Onions finished the day with four precious wickets to Anderson's five. With the ball swinging and the Australian batsmen panicking, it was as if Ricky Ponting's side had been transported back to 2005. Then it was the Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard show which helped England claim that famous Ashes triumph. Any advice Harmison has passed on to his Durham protégé looks to have been heeded, despite the elder statesman having been replaced in the England set up. "I'm still learning from Steve Harmison," said Onions.

"He's had lots of ups and downs in his career so it's good to learn from him. For me to be involved with quality players like Steve, Paul Collingwood, who have played for England and Durham, has helped. "I've taken all their advice and stored it in my head and hopefully then I can just be Graham Onions. That advice will come in handy that's for sure. "Steve has wished me all the best and lots of luck. I've still got that hot head and I don't think I can change that. I'm aggressive to get my goals and targets. I used to channel my aggression in the wrong direction but I've improved that and hopefully that will help me focus."

A late developer, Onions is finally beginning to reap the rewards from his hard work away from the game. The seamer spent last winter in Australia undergoing a regimental training regime in a bid to regain full fitness following a hell injury - a decision which has propelled him into the limelight. "I think it's only in the last 18 months that I've realised that hard work can get you into the England team," he added. "I've worked hard to get where I am and it's beginning to pay off."

sports@thenational.ae