Josh Tongue proud of England debut and thriving in ‘no-pressure’ environment
Josh Tongue loved being part of England’s “chilled” environment but is not getting ahead of himself despite an Ashes call-up.
The Worcestershire seamer was a late addition to England’s Test squad for their four-day match with Ireland and ended up debuting at Lord’s with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson rested.
Tongue impressed throughout, hitting 91mph in an enforcer role on day one before he claimed five wickets in the second innings to put his name on the honours board.
Saturday saw the 25-year-old selected in England’s 16-man group for the first two Tests against Australia and while he relished his time under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, he is eager to stay level-headed.
“I’m really proud. It’s a special moment for myself,” Togue reflected after his five for 66 helped England to a 10-wicket victory inside three days.
“Obviously I didn’t get any wickets in the first innings, so it was a bit of pressure took off me. I just enjoyed the moment.
“I just used my extra pace and bounce (in the aggressor role), I’m happy to do whatever the skipper needs.
“Being around this group, it’s a very exciting time to be an England cricketer and obviously supporter as well.
“I knew this environment would improve myself and my game.
“It’s not daunting. Everyone is very welcoming, Brendon is really nice. It’s very chilled, there is no pressure on you at all, (you) just go out and do the business and enjoy yourself.
“I (have) tried to stay as present as I can much as I can, try to impress and if I get that Ashes call it’s a bonus. I’m looking forward to being in the squad for the first two.”
Tongue has enjoyed quite the comeback during the past year after a previous 15-month absence from the game with a nerve problem in his shoulder saw him contemplate retirement.
After 11 County Championship wickets this season, including Australia’s Steve Smith in a game against Sussex, he received his Test bow and in the process helped his dad’s friend Tim Piper win GBP 50,000 on a bet placed that Tongue would play red-ball cricket for England.
Stuart Broad, Ollie Pope and Joe Root have all spoken glowingly about how Tongue fitted seamlessly into the England set-up and his captain was impressed with the point of difference he proved to their bowling attack.
But Tongue will not join the majority of the group in Scotland this week for golf on their days off and will instead head back to Worcestershire, who will hope to convince the seamer to sign a new deal given his current terms expire at the end of this season.
He added: “I’m going to go back to Worcester, spend time with the family and get to Edgbaston (for June 12).
“Worcestershire do get me to do that (enforcer role) as well. I’m probably the only out-and-out fast bowler at Worcestershire so having me there is crucial, especially when it gets a bit flat and there isn’t much happening out there.
“I have been there since I was six years old, going through the age groups. I know that I have done them proud and I’m sure, hopefully, there’s more to come.
“I haven’t thought about (my future) at all yet. I just want to enjoy my cricket, because of my injury I just want to be out on the park.”
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