Worcestershire Academy product Josh Tongue will make his Test debut on Thursday at Lord’s against Ireland in the LV= Insurance Test match.
Tongue said he’s relishing the chance to work alongside some of England’s top bowlers – including record wicket-taker James Anderson – after his call-up for the one-off Test against Ireland at Lord’s beginning on Thursday.
It is 19 years ago that Tongue made his first Worcestershire appearance as a six-year-old in an Under-10s game.
But incredibly, Anderson had already represented England and is still leading the attack impressively two decades later with a record 685 Test wickets.
Tongue met up with the England squad on Saturday and is looking forward to picking the brains of Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and co.
He said: “I bowled in the nets at the England players during a training camp in Brisbane when with the Lions a few years ago, which was very good.
“Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali were there, and I bowled at top England batters like Alastair Cook and Joe Root. That was a good experience.
“This time, it will be more great learning, and that is the main thing I’m going to take from this nine-day period.
“Just being with those sort of players, knowing how they go about their business, and picking their brains.
“Having the likes of Broad and Anderson in the same squad is going to be so good, and I’m just looking forward to being in the changing room with them.
“Someone told me Anderson was already playing for England when I first played for Worcestershire as a six-year-old. It’s crazy that isn’t it?
“But it shows how long his career has been and how successful and dedicated he has been. It is amazing.
“He is still doing the business now and is a shining example.”
It was Freddie Flintoff who Tongue admired during his formative years when he was a staunch England follower.
He said: “Flintoff was more my hero when I was growing up. I used to watch him when I used to go and watch England play.
“I used to love seeing Flintoff play but also watching Stuart Broad go about his business.
“I’d watch England at Edgbaston and Lord’s, with my Dad mainly, and look at hopefully being there myself one day. It has just always been a dream, at whatever age.”
Tongue added: “I’ve never played at Lord’s, one of the few grounds I’ve not played at. We were supposed to play Middlesex there just before COVID and that got called off.
“It is going to be my first time in the dressing room, which is going to be exciting in front of a big crowd, the first Test of the summer.
“It will be great looking over that balcony. I’ve heard people say it is an amazing view.
“The ECB Talent Tests for younger age groups, I won the bowling award, and we got invited to go to Lord’s to watch a Test and had a tour.
“We went onto the pitch to look at the wicket, and then we went into the Media Centre, and that was an amazing experience.”
Tongue feels he is regaining full fitness after his lengthy lay-off with a shoulder injury.
He said: “I needed three or four games and overs under my belt. I’m getting there slowly, and now being involved with the England squad is going to help me even more when I get back to playing for Worcestershire.
“This experience is going to benefit me for the Worcestershire season as well, which I’m looking forward to.
“In the Vitality Blast, if we play as have been at the start of the competition, I think we are going to be in a good position for hopefully when I get back into the squad.
“It’s a very strong squad. It’s very exciting. We’ve got a bit of depth in the squad.
“I feel we are playing with a lot of confidence. We had a good meeting before the competition started about having a positive mindset.”
England Men have named the following XI for the Test.
- Ben Duckett
- Zak Crawley
- Ollie Pope
- Joe Root
- Harry Brook
- Ben Stokes (captain)
- Jonathan Bairstow (wicketkeeper)
- Stuart Broad
- Matthew Potts
- Josh Tongue (Debut)
- Jack Leach