Josh Tongue is relishing the prospect of his first England Lions trip abroad and aiming to create a favourable impression bowling in the nets to the likes of Test captain Joe Root and record run-scorer Alastair Cook as they prepare for the Ashes Down Under.
The Worcestershire paceman also admits it will also be “surreal” to meet one of his cricketing inspirations in England’s record wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson and is eager to pick his brains and that of the other senior bowlers.
Tongue has dreams “like every cricketer” to play for his country and is determined to learn as much as he can after being drafted into the Lions set-up and do sufficiently well to be selected for the New Year tour to the West Indies.
He admits he is on a “massive learning curve” and has just completed a four-day training camp with the Lions at the National Performance Centre, Loughborough before flying out to Australia with the squad tomorrow (Tuesday) – the day before he celebrates his 20th birthday.
Tongue, who finished last summer with 47 County Championship wickets for Worcestershire, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the training camp. It’s been a good four days.
“I’ve done some bowling drills, been off my full run-up as well, but also fielding, batting, gym work as well, a bit of everything really.
“I’ve been working with Jon Lewis who has replaced Chris Silverwood now he has become England bowling coach. It was the first time I’ve met him, so far we’ve worked on a couple of things, and it’s gone well.
“It’s good to take in new ideas from different people. I’ve learnt a lot off Mase (Matt Mason) and the Lions people have different experiences and it’s good to take those things on board as well and nail down the things I want to work on.
“It is all part of a big learning curve for me. You’ve got people like Mark Wood here, and all the experience he’s had of playing international cricket and going to Australia is going to be a massive thing for me as well.”
The Lions will play a three-day match and three T20s before flying home for Christmas but will also link up with the senior England players in practice at various times.
Tongue said: “I’m going to be bowling at the England boys and it will be great to talk to people like Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and the other guys.
“This will help to improve my cricket I reckon, mentally as well. Hopefully I can talk to them a lot. I want to take in as much as I can. When it comes to bowling, I want to try and learn as much as I can and then put it into practice.
“If I can talk to them, and hopefully take it into my game and become a better cricketer myself, that will help to bring success for Worcestershire next year.
“I’ve been a big fan of Jimmy Anderson and watching him since I was about 10 and now he is the top wicket-taker for England which is a fantastic achievement.
“I’ve been watching him for the last nine years and it is going to be surreal meeting him and seeing how he goes about things.”
Tongue is welcoming the chance to return to playing action during the close season.
He said: “Normally in the winter I would be doing fitness work so to be back playing games, I’m looking forward to it and getting back into it really.
“I didn’t really want the county season to end with the good run I had and not being injured all summer. I just wanted to keep on playing.”
Tongue would dearly love one day to play for his country and hopes he can show his qualities in the nets.
He said: “I think it is everyone’s dream as a cricketer to play for England and play in an Ashes and especially in Australia as well. I’ll definitely be looking forward to that in the future.
“If I bowl well in the nets at the likes of Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow maybe they will then be chatting in the dressing room saying ‘this lad can actually bowl’
“I’ll be trying to impress the coaches as well.”
Tongue hopes in the short term that he can earn selection for the tour of the Windies.
He said: “That will be one of the main objectives over the winter, to try impress all the coaches and, hopefully when they choose the squad for the West Indies, get selected.
“There is also the North v South series taking place out there as well. It would be good to be in that as well.”