Josh Tongue is included in the Worcestershire CCC squad for the first time this season for the LV=Insurance County Championship derby with Warwickshire at Edgbaston beginning tomorrow.
The 23-year-old paceman underwent shoulder surgery during the winter and had not acquired the necessary match fitness by the start of the season.
But Tongue has come through several appearances for the Seconds with flying colours, including three Second Eleven Championship four-day games, and is named as part of a 14 strong squad.
Worcestershire Head Coach, Alex Gidman, said: “We wanted Josh to prove his fitness to himself as much as anything.
“For his own sake, Josh needed to have the confidence in his body to get through four days competitively but also back that up with another four days.
“He has managed to do that. He was a little bit behind in pre-season due to the injury and operation he had during the winter, but he has done everything we had hoped for, and he has come through those Second team games well.
“Most importantly, he has performed, which is why he is back in contention for the first team.”
Worcestershire are lying in third spot in an ultra-competitive Group One – just two points behind leaders Warwickshire.
Gidman said: “So far, the competition has been great. You look at each group, and most teams are only a win or a draw away from being in that top two.
“From my point of view, I think we’ve got the most points we could have out of each game, whether that’s due to our performances or the conditions and the players are putting in a huge shift.
“We will see what the next few games bring, obviously another tough little period with going away for three games, but I know the guys are in a good place and looking forward to the next few matches.”
Worcestershire are one of the few counties who have to play all nine matches in the initial block of Championship fixtures without a week’s break – unlike next week’s opponents, Durham, who are not featuring in this round of games.
Gidman said: “It will be tough, but one of the biggest strengths of this group is just getting on with things and dealing with what is in front of them.
“It is a very tough fixture against a Warwickshire team likely to be at full strength, including quite a few international players.
“But it’s a good opportunity for us to give them a good run for their money and see how many points we can get out of the fixture.”
Ben Cox +
Joe Leach *