Josh Tongue will replace Mark Wood and Chris Woakes in England’s first summer Test against Ireland on Thursday.
Brendon McCullum, the head coach of England, described Tongue as a “big, strong lad” who “bowls quite quickly and has real skills” after observing him during the team’s first summer training session on Monday. McCullum informed Tongue after their second that he would play against Ireland.
Monday, I bowled at a few of the boys, said Tongue. Although I didn’t expect to participate, bowling against top players in the nets was good for me. I must have bowled reasonably well to be chosen.
“Baz approached me just before the conclusion of training [on Tuesday] and delivered the happy news. It’s an incredible sensation, a dream come true.”
Wood and Woakes are not injured, but Wood’s participation was in doubt as England attempted to manage the workload of their remaining fast bowler before the 16 June start of the Ashes at Edgbaston.
The tongue has personal experience with severe injuries, having spent 15 months with thoracic outlet syndrome, the compression of nerves in the shoulder, during which he contemplated quitting the sport entirely. “I’m just proud of myself and how well I held in there,” he said.
“I was on the verge of retiring. I had undergone two operations, consult with a large number of specialists, and was in a dire state. And I don’t believe many bowlers have been in the same situation as I have. I’m pleased of myself for almost retiring, then making the Lions in Sri Lanka and the Test squad. Knowing that my persistence has paid off.”
Tongue, who has been affiliated with Worcestershire since he was six years old – he is the county’s first England debutant since Moeen Ali in 2014 – insisted he was not yet allowed himself to fantasize about playing in the Ashes. “I am a person who lives in the present,” he said.
“I try not to think too far ahead, and in every game I play, I just do as much as I can to help the team win a cricket match. These things will presumably occur.
Due to Ben Stokes’ long-term knee ailment, the team’s three seamers may have to bowl a lot. After a side strain, Tongue is risky, but McCullum may have selected it to avoid danger.
Ben Foakes is replaced by Jonny Bairstow as wicketkeeper after recovering from an injury. England’s top six remain unaltered from the side that played throughout the winter. Matthew Potts, making his sixth Test appearance and first since the team last played at Lord’s, against South Africa last August, and Stuart Broad, making his 162nd appearance, provide seam-bowling support for Tongue.