Durham and England paceman Graham Onions has come safely through his first week of bowling following back surgery and is on course to start the season.
After being given the all clear following his recent scans, Onions has turned his arm over for the first time since August.
It was hoped at the time that his summer’s rest would have cleared up the problem he first developed on England’s tour of Bangladesh last winter. But he was still unable to bowl without pain and surgery was the only option.
The recovery schedule suggested he wouldn’t be able to play until June, but Onions has been bowling under the guidance of National Academy bowling coach Kevin Shine, and Durham coach Geoff Cook said: “Graham is doing fantastically well.
“If he continues to progress at the current rate he should be able to take a full part on our trip to Dubai at the end of the month.”
Shine has been up to Chester-le-Street and will team up again with Onions at the academy’s Loughborough base next week.
Durham are still hopeful of having a fully fit pace battery for the start of the season, despite Liam Plunkett’s early return from the West Indies. He suffered a thigh strain while playing for England Lions and it was decided he should come home early.
He would not have been fit for the match against Guyana but is expected to have recovered in time to accompany Durham to Dubai on March 25.
“Liam’s had a lot of cricket this winter, so a rest should do him no harm,” said Cook. “Had he stayed with England Lions he would not have come to Dubai, but we hope now he’ll be able to join us.
“Ben Stokes won’t go to Dubai as he’s staying with England Lions and I understand he’s going to play against Guyana. He hasn’t had much cricket because batsmen like James Taylor, James Hildreth, Adam Lyth and Andrew Gale have all been doing so well.
“Ben also hasn’t been able to progress his bowling as much as we had all hoped because of an ankle problem, but he’s getting over it.”