THREE weeks after stressing that leaving Durham was the last thing he wanted to do Graham Onions has decided to move on.

The club had offered him a two-year contract extension conditional on him avoiding serious injury next season. Nor were they able to give him the assurances he sought about developing a coaching career.

Onions said: “It has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I genuinely love Durham County Cricket Club and hoped to finish my career here.

“We were unable to agree on the length of contract and there doesn't appear to be any guaranteed opportunities for a coaching role in the future.

“So, with a heavy heart I have to leave Durham to ensure a securer future for my family. I would like to thank the club and the members for their support over the last 15 years.

“I hope I will be remembered for wearing the Durham badge with pride and always giving 100 per cent. Durham will always hold a special place in my heart and I hope to return one day.”

There were signs of the vintage Onions when he took six for 52 against Kent this month and went on to break Simon Brown's record of 518 first-class wickets for Durham in the second innings.

But he has missed a large chunk of the season through injury and at 35 is not the force of old. At his peak he was a superb seamer who should have played in many more than his nine Tests and would have done so but for his serious back injury.

After breaking Brown's record he issued what amounted to a plea to be kept on, but it was clear that negotiations were not straightforward when he told the media he had not been offered a new deal but coach Jon Lewis said an offer had been made through his agent.

Kent and Lancashire are believed to have shown an interest in him, and given that he has a young family it is more likely that he will head for Old Trafford.

Onions played a minor part in the County Championship winning side in 2008 and also had the misfortune to be absent from the side when the title was clinched the following year.

But he was almost ever present for the third triumph 2013, when he took 69 championship wickets. He also helped Durham win the Royal London One Day Cup in 2014, but has not featured in one-day cricket over the last two years.

Although finance was not an issue, Durham continue to operate under a tighter salary cap than the other counties and face a delicate balancing act in ensuring that young players like Matthew Potts, who has made a big impact this season, are awarded contracts.

A club statement said: “Durham are extremely proud of Graham’s development that saw him play Test cricket for England and recently become Durham’s leading first-class wicket-taker. The club would like to thank him for his exceptional service and wish him well for the future."