England v West Indies: Graham Onions deserves chance to impress
Durham's Graham Onions should be given the chance to prove he is international Test standard ahead of the South Africa series
Graham Onions should be given the nod ahead of Steven Finn after it was revealed strike bowler James Anderson will be rested for the third and final Test against the West Indies on Thursday.
England have, somewhat controversially, not picked their strike bowler for the game as they look to conserve his fitness ahead of a long summer of international cricket.
And the 29-year-old, who has taken 267 Test wickets, was disappointed by his recent omission for the Edgbaston Test.
“It would be different if I felt fatigued or was struggling with an injury,” he told the Sun.
“But I believe I am fit to play — and I want to play in every England game I can. Nobody would volunteer to be left out of this side. Who knows what may happen in the future with injury or loss of form?”
With the 12-man squad set to meet on Tuesday to prepare ahead of the Test, Onions will be hoping for the chance to win his ninth Test cap against the team he made debut against in 2009.
The 29-year-old has been in stunning form for his county this season, picking up 34 wickets at an average of 12.61.
Onions, who gets extremely close to the stumps in his delivery stride, can swing the ball both ways and is the like-for-like replacement for Anderson.
The Durham bowler, who has struggled with a back injury, last played Test cricket two-and-half-years ago against South Africa, and is now firing on all cylinders – England must strike while the iron is hot.
With the kind of form he is in, Onions could be the key ingredient to help Anderson and Broad dismantle the South African top order later this summer; although to have all three bowlers in the side would involve a reshuffle England are unlikely to undertake.
It would be tough on Finn if he does not play any Test cricket this summer. The 23-year-old Middlesex bowler has been in good form, with 22 wickets at 20.04 so far this season.
Despite being the youngest Englishman to reach 50 Test wickets, Finn has been culpable of leaking too many runs at international level; it was for this reason he was dropped during England’s Ashes winning series in Australia.
Onions has the control and movement that could prove vital when the Proteas turn up for the first Test on the 19th of July at the Kia Oval. He could upset the second ranked team in the world if he is given the chance to find his feet again at Test level this week.
Jonny Bairstow will retain his place for Thursday’s Test in Birmingham despite having a torrid time against the short ball at Trent Bridge. Luckily for the young Yorkshire man, his tormentor, Kemar Roach, is out injured for the rest of the series with a shin problem.
Bairstow’s county colleague – and England’s lucky charm Tim Bresnan – is likely to keep his place and attempt to make it 14 wins from 14 Test matches, while the West Indies have called up uncapped spinner Sunil Narine to replace Roach.