Graham Onions: Durham can get even better

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GRAHAM Onions fired a warning to Durham’s opponents ahead of the 2014 season, declaring ‘we can keep on getting better’.

Durham surprised many by claiming the 2013 County Championship crown last season.

The deserved success was no shock to Onions, who believes there is still more to come from the squad.

And while the England seamer was refusing to make any claims to this season’s championship title, he believes Durham can be a force to be reckoned with.

He said: “A lot of people doubted we could win the league last year, and were tipping us to go down.

“This year is another challenge, a challenge we’re all looking forward to, and there’s no reason we can’t get even better really.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to win the league again, but from what I have seen over the winter is the lads have worked hard, and we’ve got a good blend of youth and experience. We’re looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The 31-year-old says he and his team-mates have the hunger to repeat last season’s success, although they know it will be hard work.

“As long as we prepare well, and we do everything we can to give ourselves chances to win games of cricket, that’s all we can do really.” he said.

“Of course, it would be nice to do it again.

“There were some amazing memories last year, memories I’ll never forget.

“But of course it would be nice to keep on progressing as a club.

“We’ve obviously lost a few senior players, but it’s up to the young players to come on, and keep on improving as well.”

Last season saw a number of Durham’s younger players break through on to the first-team scene, and with the likes Dale Benkenstein, Will Smith, Callum Thorp, Mitch Claydon and Steve Harmison all having left in the winter, youth once looks set to be given its chance in the forthcoming campaign.

And Onions feels that the talent coming through the Durham ranks will have to work hard to deliver this term. He added: “A lot of players had a good season last year, and it’s up to them to back it up again.

“People always say the second year is the toughest. It’s going to be a challenge for a lot of the guys to prove how good they are.”

Like many of the Durham side, Onions harbours ambitions of playing for England.

Having been the best championship bowler last season, the Tynesider was inexplicably overlooked by his country in the winter.

But Onions, along with Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick, could get the chance to don the three lions this summer, although for now the bowler is focused on delivering for his county

“I’m old and experienced enough now to not look too far into the future, but everyone wants to play for their country,” he said

“You want to make your mark in the Durham side with match-winning performances. That’s how you win Championships.

“Along the way, if you put in consistent performances of course recognition will come along.”