GRAHAM Onions yesterday sounded the clearest of warnings to those who have leapfrogged him in the England rankings.
After the first day's washout at Lord's he knocked out Andrew Strauss' off stump with the second ball of the morning and picked up two more wickets as Middlesex finished a truncated day on 132 for five.
Onions deserved greater success for a superb exhibition as he swung the ball both ways at good pace and hardly wasted a delivery.
In the helpful early conditions Durham had Middlesex reeling on two for three and probably felt they should have had more wickets before play was halted at 12.40 with the hosts on 57 for four.
There was no resumption until 4.15, when batting was a little easier and Neil Dexter celebrated his self-imposed release from the Middlesex captaincy by stroking ten fours in a 66-ball half-century. He was on 65 when rain ended play at 5.20.
In the final session left-hander Dawid Malan immediately played and missed at Mitch Claydon before twice driving him to the cover boundary in the same over.
Malan made 35, putting on 55 with Dexter, before Onions snared him with a beauty. It started on leg and middle and swung late to take the edge on the way to Phil Mustard.
But the cover drive continued to feature as Durham pitched the ball up in search of the swing which prevailed in both sessions.
It could have been two for four in the morning had Malan not survived a very confident lbw appeal from Callum Thorp.
The ball swung into the left-hander, who was on his crease covering all three stumps. Umpire David Millns must have felt it was swinging far enough to miss leg, but Thorp looked aghast.
Malan continued to ride his luck, edging an attempted pull off Onions over the slips for four in reaching 25 before bad light halted play, followed by rain, thunder, lightning and hail.
Strauss, desperate to find some form during his brief county stint, shouldered arms to the first ball of the day. He pushed forward to the second and got a slight inside edge before hearing the rattle of timber.
Onions was elated and he and Thorp continued to bowl beautifully. They earned a slip catch each to send back Joe Denly and Sam Robson before Malan and Australian left-hander Chris Rogers took the total to 28.
Mitch Claydon then replaced Onions, who had two for 16 in seven overs, and struck with his first ball. Rogers felt for it wide of off stump and edged to Scott Borthwick at third slip.
Ben Stokes replaced Thorp and conceded 19 in four overs, Dexter getting off the mark with a pull wide of mid-on, which was pursued forlornly to the boundary by Ian Blackwell.
Without addition Dexter sliced a drive at Claydon to gully, where Thorp was unable to hang on to a sharp chance.
Durham recalled Onions just before the first break, clearly feeling they needed more wickets. But after one more over the umpires called a halt and it was a similar scenario at 5.20, when the dark clouds were swiftly followed by heavy rain.