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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 7 April 2011 15:58 UK

Durham paceman Graham Onions nears return

Durham pace bowler Graham Onions
Onions has taken 28 wickets in eight Test matches for England

Durham pace bowler Graham Onions says he is close to returning after 15 months out of action.

A back injury has prevented the 28-year-old from playing since England's drawn Test match with South Africa in Cape Town in January 2010.

He told BBC Newcastle: "I've had a great time in pre-season starting to bowl and I've had no reaction so far.

"When I get a few second team games under my belt then hopefully I can come and be consistent for Durham again."

Onions was ruled out of England's tour of Bangladesh in March 2010, and underwent surgery in the autumn to repair a hairline fracture of the spine.

In September, he lost his central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"It was a sucker punch really," said the right-armer. "It's something you never really want to have, such career-threatening surgery.

"It's just a case of getting trust in my back again and getting the confidence to bowl without thinking about it."

Onions, who has taken 28 wickets in eight Test matches, was part of the England side that won the Ashes in 2009.

During his time on the sidelines, England retained the urn with a resounding 3-1 win down under, and the strength of the pace attack would seemingly leave Onions behind James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett, Steve Finn and Tim Bresnan in the pecking order.

"As a cricketer you don't lose your skills. It's like riding a bike," he continued.

"I've got a good few years left in me and I'm in good shape.

"To miss all the winter cricket was bitterly disappointing but these are exciting times and I feel like a new player for Durham."

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