For the second time this winter, Graham Onions' tour with England ended in bitter disappointment yesterday. By now, Onions should be England's most significant fast bowler – in the parlance of the modern game, the "go-to man".
Instead, he was preparing last night to fly home from Bangladesh after his back injury failed to respond to treatment. He had already withdrawn from consideration for the first Test, starting today, and with the second following in Dhaka next week, it was clear that he would not be considered for the team unless he made a sudden recovery.
Onions' tour of South Africa ended miserably when he was dropped for the fourth Test despite being England's most impressive fast bowler in the series till then. He described his omission then as a kick in the teeth and, although he was more sanguine yesterday, it was easy to tell that his heart, for the moment, lay in Dhaka rather than Gateshead.
"Of course it's frustrating," he said. "Whenever you come on tour you are always looking to make an impression. Hopefully, it's just a case of having a few days' rest. When you are on tour you only have two weeks to make an impression and, unfortunately, I have run out of time. The best thing for me is to get home and prepare for the English season."
Part of the difficulty with the injury is that both its cause and category are unknown. He broke down during practice last week but an MRI scan showed no damage. There is no reason to suppose that he will make anything other than a full recovery, but all fast bowlers know that once they have a back injury it has a habit of coming back.
Onions should have a fuller part to play in the future but on the long journey back to England he will doubtless ponder the vagaries of professional sport. Steve Finn, the rangy Middlesex bowler, has already created some waves; Ajmal Shahzad is thought of highly.
Nothing is certain for Onions now. But he should have been heartened by the words of his captain, Alastair Cook, who said: "He was a huge part of our plans and still is."Reuse content