GRAHAM Onions has swapped the television studio for the middle to pass another milestone in his comeback from career-threatening injury.
But the Gateshead-born fast bowler could arrive in India to find England have nothing to play for but pride.
Victory in Mohali today will see world champions India win the one-day series and move into a strong position to complete a clean sweep in the five-match series.
Onions replaces Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes, who has flown home with a thigh strain. It is his third international call-up this year, though his last appearance is still January 2010’s third Test in South Africa.
After that Onions was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back which kept him out until April this year. He took 50 County Championship wickets for Durham last season.
“India it is then. . . like a second home for me,” tweeted Onions, who will not join the squad until they arrive in Mumbai for the fourth match.
Onions played for England Lions in the 2008 Duleep Trophy, and has been on training camps in India. He was a Sky TV studio pundit for the first two games of the series, which India won.
England fielded the same side in both matches, but may recall Ian Bell today to rectify the batting failures which have been a feature. All-rounder Ravi Bopara is the most likely candidate to make way.
Onions was called up as injury cover for the fourth Test of England’s recent home series with India, but did not play. He was the unused member of a weakened one-day squad which travelled to Ireland for a low-key friendly in August.
A sneaky glance at the pitch, on his way to the nets this afternoon, brought an involuntary smile to Steve Finn’s face as he looks to cement his place among the world’s fastest bowlers, but he will not be sidetracked by the need for speed.
Finn spotted patches of green promising pace, bounce and even seam movement in an often arid country.
While the 22-year-old could not suppress a grin at mention of the surface, others – even his mum – have noticed he has suddenly become a 90mph-plus bowler. But the man himself knows other attributes are more important.