Graham Onions has criticised Durham’s failure to solve their Twenty20 Cup problems as the fast bowler revealed the team exchanged harsh words in the dressing room following this week’s defeat by Yorkshire.
Durham – who will host Nottinghamshire Outlaws in their final fixture in the competition this evening – had considered themselves ready to mount a serious challenge this season but, despite talk of a new approach, they have failed to qualify for the semi-finals for the fifth year running.
Onions admitted there was a lot of frustration and anger at the Riverside following another insipid campaign. But the 24-year-old is certain Durham will not allow their poor performances in the Twenty20 Cup to ruin a campaign which still promises them so much.
“When we sat down in pre season we talked about the competitions we could win this year and the Twenty20 Cup was right up there among our priorities,” said Onions, who was recalled against Yorkshire on Wednesday night after losing his place in the side at the start of the competition.
“We hadn’t done well in the past, but we really thought this year would be different.
“With the team we have we should have reached the semi-finals at the very least. It’s been another poor campaign, it’s difficult to explain exactly why, but we haven’t taken it any less seriously than we have the Championship or the Friends Provident Trophy.
“All I can say is that we are very annoyed at failing to reach the semi-finals again and there have been some very angry words in the dressing room. There hasn’t been anyone hiding from blame, it’s been a major letdown again and we’re sorry for the fans.”
Given Durham’s demise after losing their momentum in the Twenty20 Cup in the past two years, Onions is wary of allowing the same thing to happen this season.
However, with Australian opener Michael Di Venuto missing for at least a month with dislocated finger and New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris hampered by a niggling calf problem, it will be up to Durham’s homegrown talent to ensure they do not allow their problems to carry over into the Championship and the Pro 40 League.
He said: “The Twenty20 cup period can be pivotal. If you’re having a bad run, a few good results in the Twenty20 can give you a lift and re-ignite your season. If you’re having a good run, poor results in this competition can drain confidence and put people out of form.
“In the last couple of seasons we’ve been the latter and we have to make sure we don’t do that again. We’ve got to try to make sure we go out on a high against Nottingham.” Onions has been unable to have the same sort of blistering wicket-taking impact he had last season, but the quickie from Gateshead remains confident he can reach the magical 50-wicket mark in the Championship.
Onions, who has 29 wickets to his name so far this season, will begin his half-century bid when Durham’s Championship campaign resumes on Sunday at The Oval.
Onions added: “I was relatively pleased with how things were going for me before the Twenty20 cup started. The match against Yorkshire was my first in the tournament this season so I’ve had a bit of a rest as well, which has probably done me some good.
“I aimed to take 50 wickets in the Championship at the start of the season which was my minimum requirement, but I always set my standards high and I’d like to take 60.
“I think I can bowl even better in the second half of the season and it promises to be an exciting time for the club. We’ve already reached the final of the Friends Provident Trophy and we have an excellent chance of winning the Championship as well. We also have to make sure we win promotion in the Pro 40 league. In some ways the season really starts now.”
Lee Goddard will make his home debut as wicketkeeper this evening, with Phil Mustard set to be rested, while Gareth Breese will open the batting.
DURHAM (from): Benkenstein (capt), Breese, Coetzer, B Harmison, Goddard (wkt), Park, Muchall, Gibson, Wiseman, Onions, Killeen, Iqbal.