Hot Onions slices opposition apart.
GRAHAM Onions picked up three early wickets as Durham fought back strongly on day two of the LV County Championship clash against Lancashire at the Riverside.
Onions was quickly into his stride after Durham were all out for 244 in their first innings, removing Paul Horton with his second ball with a rib-tickler the Lancashire opener gloved to wicketkeeper Mustard.
Horton claimed it had hit his shirt on the way through but the finger was raised and he had no other option than to walk and Lancashire were under early pressure.
Onions then turned up the heat even further with a second wicket, removing Ashwell Prince lbw for 17, with the South African clearly unhappy at the decision.
And Tynesider Onions collected a valuable third wicket before lunch, removing Mal Loye lbw for 14.
A half-century from Phil Mustard added some valuable runs at the end of Durham's first innings.
The hosts' innings was brought to a close by Andrew Flintoff, who took two wickets in as many balls to end Durham's innings on 244.
Having slumped to 203-8 yesterday, that score was a decent one for Durham, although they will be annoyed at failing to reach 250 and secure a second batting bonus point..
Nevertheless, Mustard's performance deserves praise. He has already shown a mature approach with the bat this season in the County Championship and he controlled the strike expertly this morning to keep Onions away from the threat of Flintoff and Glen Chapple.
It was his second half-century of the campaign and the runs he chiseled out with the tail could be priceless in the wider context of the game.
Onions also deserves a mention for hanging around with him, although Steve Harmison put up less resistance.
Chatting away to Flintoff as he walked to the crease he went first ball, edging his big friend Freddie to Loye at third slip..
This was a decent return for Flintoff. The all-rounder ended the Durham innings with figures of 4- 47 from 15.5 overs which is a solid enough start to the comeback he hopes will be finish with an England recall in time for the start of the Ashes series against Australia.
Meanwhile, Durham captain Will Smith has backed opener Mark Stoneman to move on to a new level in his personal development despite yet another frustrating cameo from the youngster.
Stoneman was dismissed for 45 as Durham's batsmen struggled yesterday.
It was the second time in as many games the former Whickham Comprehensive pupil has fallen in the 40s.
But Smith said: "I was in a similar position two or three years ago. It will come with him. He just needs the experience."