DURHAM star Graham Onions insists he still isn’t quite ready for a recall to the England fold.
Onions, pictured, produced another fiery performance to take three wickets against Yorkshire yesterday, as he continued his return to form and fitness after 18 months out with a back injury.
But while he is getting close to the level that pushed him on to the Test stage two years ago, he has no complaints about being ignored for the current Test series against Sri Lanka.
He said: “You’ve got to be at the top of your game, and I wasn’t there at the start of the summer.
“I want to play, I want to get back in the England side, but at the moment I’ve still got a bit of hard work to do to get there.
“I’ll do as much as I can to get back in there. It’s my dream to play for England and it’s my overall goal really, but the only way I’m going to do that is by taking wickets for Durham.”
Even if he does get among the wickets, Onions faces a battle to dislodge the men in the England team, with Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett in good form while Steve Finn competes with Stuart Broad for the third seamer option.
“I think there is a lot of quality fast bowlers out there at the moment and you can only play three in the England side,” added Onions. “The guys in there are the three main ones at the moment.
“I missed out on the first squad and I think I knew then I wouldn’t play at all in this series against Sri Lanka. That was fine.
“I’m enjoying playing for Durham, competing and bowling well. That’s the important thing for me at the moment.
“International cricket is an unforgiving environment. If you’re not quite ready, if you’re not bowling as well as you can, you are going to be punished.
“I’m enjoying myself. When you’ve been out for a long time there are periods when you are very frustrated, so it’s important you enjoy your cricket, especially when you get a nice wicket to bowl on.”
That was certainly the case yesterday, as Championship leaders Durham quickly made up for lost time by reducing Yorkshire to 170-9 at the close of play.
Having seen the first day’s play abandoned without a ball being bowled, Durham won the toss and opted to field first, and Onions set the tone by having Adam Lyth caught at slip by Michael Di Venuto, off just the sixth ball of the day.
Play was disrupted by first bad light and then rain showers, but after it resumed Durham continued to stay on top, former England pair Steve Harmison and Paul Collingwood getting a couple of wickets as Yorkshire struggled in seamer-friendly conditions.