Graham Onions still hungry for success ahead of fresh start at Lancashire

Graham Onions still hungry for success ahead of fresh start at Lancashire

At 35 years old, most cricketers would be happy just to still be playing and to see out their career in a comfort zone.

Graham Onions has not taken that approach. After spending his entire career at Durham, earning himself club legend status and achieving his ambition of playing for England, he decided to take on one more challenge by joining Lancashire.

To take on the test of Division One cricket and a new club at his age is testament to the desire Onions has to keep proving himself. He insists the hunger is as strong as it’s ever been.

“If I lose that hunger, I don’t think I’d play any more if I’m honest, whoever I play for,” Onions said at Lancashire’s pre-season media day.

“My time at Durham was unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough. They gave me an opportunity to be professional and fulfil my dreams of playing England.

“I’m very stubborn and I want to prove myself against the best all the time. For me, not playing international cricket, that’s first division cricket. I still feel I’m good enough to do that.

“For me, it’s about trying to stay ambitious and constantly improve. That will hopefully prolong my career.”

Onions was part of three Division One-winning Durham squads, though he didn’t play much in their 2008 success, and is targeting adding more silverware during his stint at Lancashire.

He sees enough talent and strength in the Red Rose squad to give him belief that is possible this season.

“I’m 35-years-old, so I’m coming towards the end, but one of my goals is that I want to win a trophy, ideally a Championship, over the next couple of years.

“Then I can retire a happy man. It’s great to win trophies, and when you finish your career you probably look back and think ‘this is what I’ve actually done’.

“The strength in this squad is by far the best I’ve played with, for the volume of players.

“Absolutely it’s a Championship-winning squad. But we need to knit it together as a team and go out there on Friday and perform well.”

Durham’s enforced relegation at the end of 2016 meant that Onions was plying his trade in Division Two last season. He managed just eight Championship matches, but still took 32 wickets at an impressive average of 22.65.

Injuries have blighted his career, limiting Onions to just nine Tests and have reduced his playing time significantly over the last few seasons.

Part of his role at Lancashire is as a coach to help the younger bowlers but, while questions will be asked over his ability to play enough matches for the Red Rose, Onions says he is feeling good.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to be fit and as strong as I can be, ready for a good season,” he said.

“At the start of each season, you want to stay fit and play as many games as possible, bowl your overs, put match-winning performances in.

“I’ve done some stuff with the academy this winter and thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s something I want to keep on doing.

“Coaching is something I’m hoping that in a couple of years or whenever that might be, I may be able to slide into that kind of role.

“We have some good bowlers here. Some of the best advice I got was to learn by doing it yourself. If you fail, then you’ve got a good chance of learning even more.

“I’m not going to say ‘Do this or do that’. It’s up to them, and I’ll help them along the way.”

There are some familiar faces around the Lancashire dressing room to help Onions feel at home, with a host of players he has played with or against.

He played alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul during the West Indian’s time at Durham and jokes that he never expected him to still be playing at the age of 43.

“I didn’t think he’d play at all when he didn’t turn up for the photos today!

“Then when I saw him in the changing room and said ‘Are you not meant to be outside?’, he said ‘It’s too cold!’.

“Some things never change.

“I came into the dressing room and saw Crofty [Steven Croft] and I’ve got him out a few times. I said ‘Alright Crofty’. Then I saw Browny [Karl Brown] and it was the same.

“God knows what they think of me! I’ve probably abused them so much over the years.”


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