Josh Tongue has been added to England’s Test squad to take on Ireland next week (June 1-4) – here’s everything you need to know about England’s newest fast-bowling recruit.
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.
Among those wickets was that of 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.
Tongue joins England’s pace bowling ranks alongside Jimmy Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood for the one-off Test match. With five Ashes Test matches in quick succession following, it’s possible Tongue could find a Test debut if England prioritise keeping their frontline fast-bowlers fresh for the summer ahead.
In a statement on his inclusion, England men’s national selector Luke Wright said: “We have been monitoring Josh (Tongue) for quite some time and he deserves this call-up to the Test squad. It will be a great experience for him to understand and get used to the environment under Ben (Stokes) and Brendon (McCullum).
“It is important to have players ready to respond and with a big summer of Test cricket coming up, we will need that depth to our squad. We wish Josh and the rest of the squad well for the first international of the campaign.”
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. 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.
Speaking to Worcestershire CCC’s website, Josh Tongue said of his call-up: “The invaluable experience I gained during the winter as part of the Lions team has given me the hunger to represent my country in more international cricket matches and obviously the next step is Test cricket.”
“While my focus has primarily been on playing for Worcestershire, who I love playing for, the news of my selection for the Test squad is fantastic news.”