Graham Onions: World Cricket's Bowler of the Month, September 2013
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The height of irony, this award arguably borders on a slap in the face for Graham Onions.
While his performances with the ball in leading Durham to the Division One County Championship title have been nothing short of outstanding, his baffling omission from England's Ashes squad is undoubtedly a painful one for the 31-year-old quick.
Onions would have provided England's squad with a delicious blend, adding control and guile to an attack heavy on pace and bounce. Yet selectors appear to have fallen into the alluring trap of sending only the most brutal and brisk seamers to Australia, forgetting the subtle beauty of variety.
Our bowler of the month for September has been forced to endure an unforeseen fate, something Onions himself reflected upon when the Ashes squad was announced last week.
Disappointed is a understatement, absolutely gutted— Graham Onions (@BunnyOnions) September 23, 2013
However, leaving his immense Ashes disappointment aside, Onions was the standout candidate for this award over the course of September.
Durham's capture of the County Championship title this season has been powered by the unrelenting seamer, with Onions putting together a spectacular set of figures from his last four outings.
The right-armer's month of September has produced 26 wickets from 130.3 overs at a staggering average of 14.54.
His mauling of Division One strugglers Derbyshire was unquestionably his finest performance, which saw Onions finish with match figures of 9-85 from 46 impeccable overs. His second innings effort of 5-23 saw the quick destroy the home side's middle order, as Durham reduced their opponents to an incredible 63 all-out to essentially guarantee victory.
Yet Onions himself may argue that his 7-88 effort across two innings against title contenders Sussex, was an even finer exhibition of his skill. His capture of the visitor's top three in Chris Nash, Luke Wells and Michael Yardy started the rot that saw Sussex collapse for just 112 in their first innings.
Perhaps what makes Onions such an effective operator is his ability to tailor his bowling to the conditions at hand. In Durham, where the pitch regularly offers the sort of nip seamers crave, the 31-year-old employs a stump-to-stump method, forcing the batsmen to relentlessly play, using subtle movement to bring about their downfall.
Should Graham Onions have been selected in England's Ashes squad to tour Australia?
Yet when conditions aren't so conducive, Onions finds other ways to thrive. His ability to vary his length while keeping his opponent pinned on strike is wonderful. Ditto for his subtle variations in swing and seam. One can only wonder what he could do against an Australian batting lineup chock-full of questionable techniques.
But Onions shouldn't be deterred. His county season has been exemplary; his case for England selection could not be stronger. The point of difference that Onions offers will certainly be called upon in due course, with this past month providing the perfect example of his quality.
So while it's not an Ashes call up, Graham Onions can comfortably lay claim to world cricket's bowler of the month honours.
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