An early starter who contemplated early retirement – 5 things about Josh Tongue

An early starter who contemplated early retirement – 5 things about Josh Tongue

England have named Josh Tongue in their side for the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord’s.

The Worcestershire pace bowler replaces former county colleague Moeen Ali as the only change to the England line-up that lost the opening Test by two wickets at Edgbaston.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things you may not know about the 25-year-old, who took a five wicket second-innings haul on his Test debut against Ireland at Lord’s earlier this month.

He has already landed an Ashes blow

The arrival of Australia’s star batter Steve Smith on an overseas deal at Sussex caused plenty of disgruntlement among those who felt it gave Australia an Ashes edge. But Smith’s first game did not provide the acclimatisation he was hoping for, with Tongue rapping his front pad to dismiss him for 30 in his only innings. The lbw decision was far from clear-cut, but that was not enough to take the smile off the bowler’s face as he declared it a “bail-trimmer”.

Injury forced him to consider early retirement

Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue
Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue (right) was sidelined for a lengthy period by injury (Adam Davy/PA)

Tongue told The Cricketer earlier this year that he had started to wonder if he should “pull the pin” on his professional career during a 15-month lay-off with severe shoulder problems. It took visits to three separate specialists to finally get to the bottom of the nerve issues that left him experiencing dead arms and unable to grip the ball. A diagnosis was eventually forthcoming for a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, with a treatment programme getting him back on the field last August.

He was an early starter

Tongue was just six years old when he began his unbroken association with Worcestershire, turning out for the club’s Under-10 side well ahead of time. He has since gone through the age groups and academy set-up at New Road, eventually making his first-class debut in 2016. He already has close to two decades of playing experience with his home county and looks a good bet to be a one-club man.

Untapped white-ball talent

For the majority of his time in county cricket, Tongue has been seen primarily as a red-ball prospect. Indeed, he has played just 15 List A fixtures and only 10 T20s – three since returning from England Test duty. Despite that thin track record, which includes a modest 24 limited-overs wickets, he was signed up by Manchester Originals for this summer’s Hundred competition. Head coach Simon Katich must have seen something to work with and the tournament could provide a chance for Tongue to spread his wings in a new environment.

Roaring with the Lions

Tongue was called up for the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year, a clear chance to impress the powers that be. With the ECB’s elite pace bowling coach Neil Killeen leading the trip and powerful director of cricket Rob Key also travelling, Tongue took his opportunity in the second unofficial Test. Forced to wait until Matthew Fisher and Sam Cook had shared the new ball, he picked up five for 76 in the first innings and grabbed another three in the second. On a Galle surface known as spin-friendly, it cannot have done his cause any harm at all.