Josh Tongue focused on short term with Nottinghamshire after ‘crazy summer’

Josh Tongue still marvels at his “crazy summer” last year but the swiftness of his rise and injury setbacks along the way have taught the England fast bowler not to look too far ahead.

Tongue followed up a five-wicket haul on Test debut against Ireland at Lord’s last June by returning to the venue weeks later and snaring David Warner and Steve Smith in both innings in his lone Ashes match.

A couple of separate pectoral issues – unconnected to a shoulder nerve problem that sidelined him between June 2021 and August 2022 – have interrupted his progress, denying him an ODI debut in the Caribbean at the back end of last year and possible involvement in England’s recent Test tour of India.

Josh Tongue, centre, dismissed David Warner and Steve Smith in both innings in last year's Lord's Ashes Test (Adam Davy/PA)
Josh Tongue, centre, dismissed David Warner and Steve Smith in both innings in last year’s Lord’s Ashes Test (Adam Davy/PA)

After going under the knife in December, Tongue is back bowling in practice again ahead of schedule and awaiting the green light to return to competitive action for the first time since last August.

Having switched counties over the winter from Worcestershire to Nottinghamshire, the 26-year-old’s focus is on impressing at Trent Bridge rather than looking ahead to the English Test summer.

“I don’t really look into the future at all,” he told the PA news agency. “Last summer, I didn’t think I would have ever played for England and then all of a sudden, I had the phone call and I was selected.

“It was a crazy summer and it all happened so quickly. It took me a while to let it all sink in. Getting out the world’s top-class batters is an amazing feeling.

“Whatever I do as a bowler is to try and do the best for the team. When I do get back playing, I just want to focus on doing as well as I can for Notts and if England do come knocking then happy days.”

Having handed Tongue a two-year central contract, England are likely to be keeping a close eye on him, with the first Test of the summer not starting until July 10 against the West Indies at Lord’s.

There is at least one seamer vacancy following Stuart Broad’s retirement last year and with Rob Key, England’s director of men’s cricket, suggesting recently they are on the lookout for bowlers who can consistently operate in the mid-to-high 80mph range, Tongue fits the bill.

“There’s loads of fast bowlers in the country so there’s a good group of us now who are going to push for a spot,” Tongue said.

“Every team likes having fast bowlers, they’ve got a point of difference, especially when there’s not much going out there and you need someone that bowls 85-90mph to change the game.”

While Broad has also left a sizeable hole at Nottinghamshire, Tongue rejected out of hand the suggestion he could be the long-term replacement.

Stuart Broad's retirement leaves at least one seam bowling spot available for England this summer (Mike Egerton/PA)
Stuart Broad’s retirement leaves at least one seam bowling spot available for England this summer (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Not at all,” he said. “I’m a different bowler. I go about things differently to what Broady would have done.

“He was an unbelievable bowler and somebody I grew up watching. To share the changing room for England last year was amazing. I haven’t thought about filling his shoes at all, I just want to do the best I can for Notts.”

Tongue was not alone in leaving Worcestershire for Nottinghamshire in the close-season, with Dillon Pennington and Jack Haynes also moving to the east midlands.

“I just want to win games for Notts, that’s why I came here,” Tongue added. “I want to win trophies. It’s every cricketer’s aim.”

Nottinghamshire, who were beaten by Essex in their Vitality County Championship opener, are due to welcome Worcestershire this week although Tongue is unlikely to be available against his former club.