Josh Tongue will make his Test match debut against Ireland tomorrow (June 1), having been selected over Chris Woakes for England’s opening Test of the summer – here’s everything you need to know about England’s newest fast-bowling recruit.
England announced their XI for the Lord’s Test match yesterday, after Tongue was added to the squad last week. The 25-year-old plays his first-class cricket for Worcestershire and has taken 11 wickets in the County Championship so far this season. He averages 41.45 in four matches, at an economy rate of 4.43, as a right-arm fast-bowler.
England XI v Ireland: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Matt Potts, Josh Tongue, Jack Leach.
Tongue has been given a place over Chris Woakes, who was named in the original squad before Tongue’s call-up. Ollie Robinson and Jimmy Anderson are both managing minor injuries ahead of the Ashes, while Mark Wood has returned home to spend time with his family after the birth of his second child. Woakes has not played a Test match in over a year after suffering a long-term injury. The 34-year-old averages 22.63 in Test matches in England.
Our newest Test cricketer! 🧢
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) May 30, 2023
Among Tongue’s Championship wickets this season was Steve Smith in his first outing for Sussex earlier this month. Tongue pinned Australia’s premier Test batter lbw for 30, having already dismissed opener Tom Clark earlier in the innings. He finished with three wickets from Worcestershire’s one bowling innings in the game, his third victim being Cheteshwar Pujara.
Speaking on his selection on Tuesday (May 30), Tongue said: “It’s an amazing feeling. [I’m] speechless, really. Even from when I got the first call-up to be in the squad… now being in the actual team, it’s just a dream come true really.
“Baz (Brendon McCullum) came up to me just before training finished today. I had just finished a gym session, actually, and he came up to me and gave me the good news.”
“I bowled at some of the lads on Monday, I felt like I bowled nicely and obviously I was going in with no expectations to be playing at all and just bowling at high-class players at the nets was just good for me. I must have bowled fairly well to get selected.”
McCullum, England’s head coach, speaking on Tongue’s inclusion in the squad on Monday, before it had been announced that he would make his debut, said: “He’s a big strong lad, that’s for sure, he looks like he bowls quite fast and has some real skills. He is obviously a bit of a rough diamond. He’s had some injuries throughout his career and it is nice for a guy like him to be able to have an extended period of time where he has been injury-free this summer to push his case.
“We think he has got something really exciting and hence we brought him into the squad. Whether he plays in this Test or throughout the summer, I am not sure, but again he is another one who looks like he has an immense amount of talent.”
Tongue was part of the ECB’s pace development programme as a teenager and was selected in the England Lions Squad in 2017 after a stand-out debut first-class season. That year he took a five-wicket haul on his Championship debut against Glamorgan and finished the season with 47 Championship wickets, playing a massive part in Worcestershire’s promotion to Division One. He followed up in 2018 with 40 wickets in Division One at 25.27. Since then, however, Tongue has spent at least part of every first-class summer on the sidelines with injuries.
Just last year, he reportedly nearly retired from cricket altogether as an injury to his shoulder nerves kept him out of action for 15 months. The injury required two surgeries as well as botox injections to allow Tongue to return to action. He made his comeback at the back-end of the season year, where he played Worcestershire’s last three Championship games of the season and took five wickets.
On the recent Lions tour of Sri Lanka, Tongue took a five-for in the first innings of the second unofficial Test against Sri Lanka A and took three wickets in the second innings.