We’re going to show you – Graham Onions feels Durham are back where they belong

By Sports Desk March 22, 2024

Graham Onions believes both he and his boyhood county Durham are “back where we belong” as they prepare for a top-flight return eight years on from their “incredibly harsh” relegation.

Onions was a key part of the side treated with unprecedented severity by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2016, demoted to Division Two and hit with a 48-point penalty for the following season after falling into serious financial trouble.

He left for Lancashire in 2017 as the club’s record wicket-taker, part of a talent drain that also saw the likes of Scott Borthwick, Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings move on, but returned from Old Trafford at the start of the year as lead bowling coach.

The team he rejoins is finally back at the top table of English cricket after a stirring promotion season under Ryan Campbell, with Onions delighted to be part of Durham’s long-awaited comeback.

“The punishment was extremely harsh. A lot of people would say it was completely wrong and I get that because it wasn’t based on our performances,” he told the PA news agency.

“A lot happened – financial troubles and a lot of uncertainty – and it got messy. Did it leave a chip on the shoulder? Yeah, a little bit. The members here will feel ‘we’re going to show you’.

“There’s been years where we haven’t gone straight back up and that does surprise me but we’re in a good place now. We’re back to where we belong now and we just need to go out and show how good we are.

“I’m excited to be back home, I’ve still got the Geordie twang and the weather hasn’t changed! As a young lad I was given the opportunity to play for this amazing county and that seems a long time ago.

“But now I’ve got the chance to come back and work with some incredibly talented players and I feel very privileged again. I’m proud of where I’m from, it’s important to me being from the north-east.”

Onions was part of Durham’s impressive roll call of fast bowlers to represent England and now has responsibility for overseeing an attack containing two more, Matthew Potts and Brydon Carse.

Potts is nudging his way up the Test pecking order after excelling on the England Lions tour of India this winter and a strong start to his first Division One campaign, which begins at home to Hampshire on April 5, could make the 25-year-old an irresistible pick.

“He’s a determined lad and he wants to do well for us to force his way into that side and stay there,” said Onions.

“I don’t see any reason why he can’t do that. He’s got the work ethic, he’s got the skills. Wickets are your currency and if you keep knocking over top players, you will get recognised.”

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