Graham Onions, signed by Gemini Arabians in the MCL, retains dream of England recall

The MCL was meant to be for retired players, but the Gemini Arabians have one player who still has hopes of a recall.

From left to right: Richard Levi, Jacques Rudolph, Richard Levi, Nalin Khaitan, Saqib Ali, Saqlain Mushtaq, Graham Onions and Virendar Sehwag of Gemini Arabians. Satish Kumar / The National
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The MCL starts in Dubai at the end of this month. Gemini Arabians staged a spectacular launch at Skydive Dubai on Saturday, involving Jacques Rudolph. The MCL was meant to be for retired players, but the Arabians have one player who still has hopes of a recall.

Still available

Graham Onions, an Ashes-winner with England, was bought at auction last month, despite not fulfilling the officially “retired” criteria. “For me, this sort of competition is ideal because it keeps you ticking over, wanting to win, and that fire burning in your belly,” Onions said. “Of course, I would love to play for England again, but with injuries along the way, and being 33, we will see what happens.”

In a dream

Onions says the chance to play alongside some of cricket’s former greats in Dubai will be a “unique” experience. “You are playing with some of the best players that have ever played the game, so for me to be part of that is a bit of a dream,” he said. “I wouldn’t class myself as a legend. It is a nice to have been recognised.”

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Coincidental timing

The fact he will be debuting in a tournament in Dubai meant for retired players while his former teammates with England are on tour in South Africa is a coincidence. The last time they played there, Onions enjoyed one of his finest moments, albeit with his lesser suit, when he and Paul Collingwood helped save the Test match in Cape Town by blocking out the final over.

On Stokes

England’s Cape Town outing was very different this time around. Rather than being known for a famous rearguard, it was the big hitting of Ben Stokes which will linger in the memory. “He is one of my good friends and I have played with him for a number of years,” Onions said of his Durham teammate Stokes, who made 258 against South Africa. “He has had his setbacks, his ups and down, but people need to remember he is still very young.”

Downplaying expectations

“People are comparing him to Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, and in some ways I think that’s unfair because he is a young lad still learning his trade,” he added about Stokes. “When you get 250 off not many balls, against a good attack, with people like Morne Morkel and he is hitting them out the park, credit to him for what he has achieved. He will feel a little bit of pressure. For me, he is a rough diamond who can win games for whoever he plays for. The World Twenty20 is coming up and that is going to be exciting.”

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