Benkenstein's inside information gives Durham seamer the edge

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The Independent Online

Graham Onions describes his role in the England team in simple terms. "I just run in, try to do my job and take wickets for England."

He has not been particularly lucky in the series against South Africa so far but he has been arguably the touring side's most impressive bowler, with an economical action which takes him close to the stumps and enables him to bowl wicket to wicket. When a batsman misses, as J P Duminy did at Kingsmead yesterday, he makes it easy for an umpire to affirm an lbw decision.

As he was during the First Test at Centurion, Onions was straightforward and self-effacing when he faced the media after the first day's play in Durban.

He enjoyed opening the bowling with James Anderson but did not see it as a slight on Stuart Broad. "The three seamers we've got, any of us can use the new ball," he said. Nor did he take offence when Andrew Strauss did not ask him to bowl after lunch until tea was almost due, even when Jonathan Trott bowled ahead of him. "If Trotty had a bit of luck and had an extra slip he could have nipped Jacques [Kallis] out and it would have been a great change," he said.

"We're all in it together and as a team we're doing good things. When Andrew eventually threw me the ball I was more than happy to run in hard as I could."

Onions bowled an impeccable line and length to Graeme Smith, beating the South African captain several times. He said he resisted the temptation to try to be too aggressive on a pitch with pace and bounce because of a chat with Durham team-mate and former Natal captain Dale Benkenstein, who had years of experience at Kingsmead.

"He gave me a little bit of advice," said Onions, "and told me generally the fuller balls get the edge here."

Onions said the three wickets the visitors captured shortly before bad light stopped play had swung the game in England's favour. "I feel the way the lads bowled and fielded again today, we deserved the little bit of luck that came our way."

Kallis said the late collapse had left the game "in the balance" but gave credit to England's bowlers. "They bowled exceptionally well. It was going around quite a bit and they were getting the ball in the right areas."