Onions edges mate Harmy for Ashes call

PACEMAN Graham Onions last night paid homage to Durham team-mate Steve Harmison after edging him out of the 13-man England squad for the first Ashes Test.<br /><br />Onions, 26, was surprisingly given the nod for the series opener in Cardiff on Wednesday, even though it was the more experienced Harmison who impressed in the England Lions&rsquo; tour match against Australia.<br /><br />Harmison misses out along with Ryan Sidebottom, leaving Onions to take his place in the 13 along with Monty Panesar, who is preferred to Adil Rashid as the second spin option.<br /><br />Onions made his Test debut in the recent series against the West Indies, taking 10 wickets in two matches. But, although expressing his delight at making the squad, Onions spared a thought for county colleague Harmison, whose return to form came just too late. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t speak highly enough of Steve Harmison,&rdquo; Onions said. &ldquo;When he left the ground yesterday he said he was just a phone call away, which is great. He has played 60-odd Test matches and I have got to look up to him for advice.<br /><br />&ldquo;Steve has helped me so much in my career as well but I have been selected in that first Test squad and I have got to make the most of it.&rdquo;<br />Of his Test call-up, Onions added: &ldquo;Its absolutely unbelievable. It is all exciting times, the Australians are ahead of us and bring it on. It&rsquo;s quite hard to think from last winter that I&rsquo;m in the squad and I just can&rsquo;t wait. I&rsquo;m really looking forward to it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Another squad member to sympathise with Harmison was Lions captain Ian Bell, who admitted the Australians might even be relieved to see the back of the strike ace. &ldquo;With the new ball, he can be pretty lethal with that extra bounce he gets,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I am sure they will be relieved in a way. When he is in top form, he is one of the best bowlers in the world.&rdquo;<br /><br />National selector Geoff Miller explained: &ldquo;Steve did come into the discussion, but we&rsquo;ve also got other bowlers who can do that as well.&rdquo;<br /><strong><br />ENGLAND SQUAD 1ST ASHES TEST <br /></strong>AJ Strauss (Middx, capt),&nbsp; AN Cook (Essex), RS Bopara (Essex), KP Pietersen (Hants), PD Collingwood (Durham), MJ Prior (Sussex, wkt), A Flintoff (Lancs), SCJ Broad (Notts), GP Swann (Notts), JM Anderson (Lancs), MS Panesar (Northants), IR Bell (Warwicks), G Onions (Durham)