Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Durham Shocked by a Double Blow; Onions Makes 16-Man Ashes Squad - but Left-Out Harmison Called Up for Lions Party

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Durham Shocked by a Double Blow; Onions Makes 16-Man Ashes Squad - but Left-Out Harmison Called Up for Lions Party

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK PUREWAL

DURHAM were dealt the double blow of losing Steve Harmison and Graham Onions to England today - but for the Lions, not the Ashes.

In a move bound to frustrate Durham head coach Geoff Cook, the England selectors have landed the Riverside strike duo in the second XI for the Ashes warm-up clash with Australia at Worcester (July 1-4).

England have selected Onions in the wider Ashes squad of 16 that will train ahead of the series, but crucially they have not included him in the match squad to take on Warwickshire at Edgbaston on July 1-3.

Harmison, meanwhile, has not even made the pre-Ashes training camp, but has been included alongside Onions in that match squad for the Australia game at New Road.

With the duo in fine form last week in Durham's stirring County Championship win at Edgbaston over Warwickshire - just the second result in 13 games on a flat track - taking 16 of the match wickets between them, Cook was resigned to losing one or both.

But this scenario means Cook could find his side decidedly underpowered in the forthcoming Championship clash against Worcester.

With Mark Davies only just dipping a toe back into the competitive water this week in Durham's second XI, and Liam Plunkett still with no definitive idea what his injury actually is, the England selection is the worst possible outcome for Durham.

Durham are in the process of sending Plunkett to a specialist in a bid to discover the exact nature of his injury, that was originally thought to be a groin problem.

Now the club doctors are baffled, and with Davies still working his way back Durham might struggle for strike bowlers when Worcestershire come to Chester-le-Street.

In the wake of Friday night's dramatic win at Edgbaston, Cook lamented the potential of losing two men in such hot form, and so instrumental to the win.

But even he probably did not expect England to hedge their bets and keep both men on the fringes, just in case of injury or form loss to one of the main squad frontline bowlers.

Speaking on Friday, Cook admitted he harboured fears about losing both his chief weapons.

He said: "It would be a shame to lose them, because between them they have already got something like 70 wickets in the Championship. …

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