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A brisk and tenacious seam bowler, with a name to delight headline writers, Graham Onions has become an integral cog in the England team. Another paceman off the Durham production line, his accurate bowling has almost taken a back foot to his steely last-wicket defiance in his short England career so far.
He first caught the eye during the 2006 season and did enough to earn a place in England's provisional 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy, but it wasn't until 2009 that he secured his Test debut. He was called up to replace Darren Gough in England's one-day squad against Pakistan in September 2006 and that winter toured Bangladesh with England A. The 2007 season was more of a struggle as Ottis Gibson's outstanding form often forced him out of the side, but he still spent the following winter with the England Lions where his game continued to develop.
As Durham claimed their maiden Championship title in 2008, Onions spent most of the season laid up with a string of injuries, and when he was fit couldn't force his way back into a strong line-up. No honours followed that winter, but hard work on his fitness paid off at the start of the following season when strong form was rewarded with a call-up to the squad to face West Indies. Then, as if making up for lost time, he hurtled onto the honours board with debut figures of 5 for 38, including a sensational spell of four wickets in seven balls. He subsequently played an important role in England's successful Ashes campaign, including a memorable double strike from the first two deliveries of day two of the third Test at Edgbaston.
His stature grew during England's tour to South Africa after the Ashes, where it was not just his wicket-to-wicket seam bowling that made an impact. He could almost lay claim to the man-of-the-series award as he twice held firm at the end to salvage a draw for his side from the brink of defeat. In the first Test at Centurion, England were nine down when Onions came out to join Durham team-mate Paul Collingwood at the crease with 19 balls remaining. He repelled 12 deliveries to ensure England remained level and then, in the third Test at Cape Town did it all again. England had once again collapsed and it was left to Onions to withstand 11 deliveries, including a hostile final over from Morne Morkel, to defy South Africa once more.