Cheers and Onions as England cricketers rock
Graham Onions was still pinching himself as it sank in that his five wickets on Test debut had done most to put England in a dominant position at Lord's.
The 26-year-old Durham seamer admits to plenty of ups and downs on a tortuous route to Test cricket, and the omens were not great for him yesterday when he followed a golden duck at number 11 with a long-hop dispatched for four in his first attempt with the ball.
Less than two hours later, though, he had five for 38 in the bag and as his name was being etched on the famous HQ honours board, England were reducing the West Indies to 39 for two second time round by stumps on day two of the npower series.
Onions rightly mentioned Graeme Swann - three for 16 and a maiden Test 50 - and Ravi Bopara (143) among others in dispatches, as he reflected on England's 377 and the tourists' 152 all out in reply.
But there was no denying his was the headline-grabbing performance, with four wickets in seven balls during one hectic passage of play as Chris Gayle's team contrived to turn 99 for two into 128 for nine.
"To get five wickets really is a dream come true," said Onions.
"I think today I can give myself a pat on the back and I'm very proud of what I've done.
"It's just a brilliant day for me, a massive confidence boost and one I'll never forget."
Onions is grateful to the man-management of captain Andrew Strauss, and an inclusive atmosphere in the England team which meant — even when his day did not appear to be going to plan — he was able to regroup to such great effect.
"The team ethic I walked into has been absolutely fantastic. You could say there is a lot of love in the changing room," he said.
"I'm sitting here very pleased with myself to get five wickets. But I can't stress how much the team dug deep.
"There are people in that changing room — Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss — that I never thought I'd have the chance to play with.
"I have to pinch myself a few times. But today, I really do feel part of this team — and I'm sure I've got a lot to offer."
“Andrew did say at the beginning of the Test, 'don't put yourself under too much pressure, just enjoy the moment'. I'm certainly going to do that now.
"To get that first wicket, I was delighted. Then after that, it just happened so quickly - but I can remember every minute of it."