Worcestershire pace bowler Josh Tongue has taken another encouraging step forward in his battle to return to action after a lengthy absence with a shoulder problem.
Tongue yesterday (Wednesday) bowled at batters in the nets for the first time this summer.
Head Coach Alex Gidman described this as “a hugely positive sign”, although he stresses there is still a long way to go in his bid to return to full match fitness.
But he admits Tongue’s return and his ability to bowl at 90mph would be like “a new signing.”
He said: “Yes, it would be. Any team will miss a bowler like Josh, and it has been fantastic news with the medication and the injections that have helped him.
“Fingers crossed that remains the same for a sustained period, and he can get back to full fitness and keep the bowling moving forward.
“He bowled to batters on Wednesday for the first time in however long, so that is a hugely positive sign.
“But there is a long way to go. We need to look after Josh and try to give him the best chance of the symptoms not coming back, and we will see what happens on a week-by-week basis.”
Tongue has demonstrated in the past the pace that troubles opposition batters and has been selected on three occasions for the England Lions only for injuries to dash his hopes so far.
Gidman said: “He has got pace, and pace in any format no-one likes to face, whoever they are, so he has got a natural attribute there that not many in the country have got.
“England are craving fast bowlers, and Josh can certainly get up to and around 90 mph pretty consistently.
“Anyone would miss him, and anyone would be stronger with that sort of bowler in your team.”
Batter Jack Haynes is making good progress after being sidelined for the past three weeks with a tweaked knee ligament.
Haynes missed the LV=Insurance County Championship encounter with Glamorgan plus the final five Vitality Blast matches.
Gidman said: “Jack is coming along nicely. We are hopeful for next Monday against Middlesex.
“He’s got to go through a bit of a fitness test in the next few days, and hopefully, he comes back into contention.”
The timing of the injury meant the in-form Haynes, who has scored three Championship centuries this summer, could not come under consideration for the England Lions squad to face South Africa in two 50-over games, including one at New Road on July 14.
Gidman said: “I think the injury came along at the wrong time, which is a shame for Jack, but let’s see what happens in the future with that one.”