Graham Onions embracing coaching challenge ahead of season
The veteran fast bowler is overseeing the fast bowling preparations with Glen Chapple on England duty at Emirates Old Trafford
Lancashire’s Graham Onions has described the chance to help coach one of county cricket’s most talented seam bowling departments as an honour.
Ex-England quick Onions has stepped into the gap created by Glen Chapple’s secondment to England as their bowling coach for the ongoing West Indies Test series.
Chapple may be the Red Rose head coach, but the former captain also looks after their plethora of seamers - something now down to Onions in preparation for the belated start of the summer on August 1.
Another former skipper, Mark Chilton, takes on head coaching duties until Chapple’s return just a few days before the start of the season.
He will oversee two-day friendlies against Yorkshire and Derbyshire later this month, while second-team coach Chris Benbow has also stepped up to assist.
Onions said: “When Glen got the fantastic news that he’d be working with England, he rang me up and asked would I feel comfortable doing it. He wasn’t questioning whether I could do the job as a role on its own, it was just a case of juggling coaching and my bowling.
"But, straightaway, I thought back a couple of years to making the move to Lancs (from Durham). And this kind of thing was exactly why I moved.
“My response was, ‘Absolutely, yes, get me in there. I’ll work around the lads to get my overs in’. To be the bowling coach for all the seamers on the professional staff is an honour.
“I know it’s only a five-week block, but it’s a really, really important block to get the lads ready to compete for trophies and to give something back to the members, who have had it tough over the last few months.”
Since moving to Emirates Old Trafford ahead of the 2018 summer, the 37-year-old Gateshead native has had a major impact on Lancashire life - both on and off the field.
As a seam bowler, Onions has taken 102 wickets in 22 County Championship matches at an average of 20.80, significantly better than his already impressive First-Class career average of 25.70.
Off the field, he has had a varied range of coaching duties as he explores a potential future career.
“I’ve worked closely with the first-team squad since I joined, just giving bits of advice without doing much technical coaching,” explained 'Bunny'.
“But through the winters, I’ve been doing some coaching with the younger Academy lads, which I’ve absolutely loved. Even now, as an old pro, I want to keep getting better and keep people out of the team. Hopefully that kind of mentality rubs off on the younger lads.
“The last three years have been everything I could have asked for. It’s been fantastic.”
Despite being in England’s bio-secure bubble, Chapple is still keeping close tabs on training at Chester Boughton Hall, according to Onions.
He said: “He’s still having an input, but I’m sure if you spoke to him, he would be saying, ‘Bunny has full responsibility for the bowlers, he’s running things’.
“Not that I don’t believe in what I’m doing, but I am going back to him and checking if things are being done right because, ultimately, he has more experience as a coach.
“I also want to learn, and why wouldn’t I ask Glen Chapple? He’s got an amazing amount of knowledge.”
Onions is part of a Lancashire seam bowling department which every county would no doubt love to have.
“It’s just relentless isn’t it,” added Onions.
“We have some fantastic seamers who are coming on leaps and bounds. They have a desire to learn, to get fit and strong and to push each other.
“When I look back at my Durham days and we won back-to-back Championships (2008 and 2009), we had seven fantastic seamers who would almost walk into any First-Class team.
“That can bring problems with getting people enough games, but it’s good to know if someone drops out then you have the quality there ready to go. We have that here.
“It gives an opportunity to those guys who bowl quicker - Glees, Saqqy, Liam Hurt’s another - to give absolutely everything because they know they will get an opportunity to rest.”