Josh Tongue hailed a ‘dream come true’ after it was announced he would make his England debut in the first Test of the summer against Ireland.
Tongue recently added Australian great Steve Smith to his impressive list of scalps in the County Championship and is set to make his England debut on June 1.
With James Anderson and Ollie Robinson rested ahead of the Ashes, Tongue has been given a chance to impress on the highest stage, edging out the experienced Chris Woakes, who had been expected to lead the bowling attack alongside Stuart Broad.
“It’s an amazing feeling. Speechless really, even from when I got the first call up to be in the squad. Now being in the actual team, it’s just a dream come true really,” Tongue said.
“Since I was a young kid I always dreamt about playing for England. Now knowing I stuck in there, shows that mentally I was in a good place and it’s come good.”
“I’ve never played at Lord’s before for Worcester so it’s my first time being here and experiencing the ground. It’s an amazing feeling, and to make my Test debut as well.”
At just 25, Tongue has taken some memorable wickets in domestic English cricket, including Hashim Amla, and was a late addition to the England squad following the injury to Olly Stone.
The seamer first impressed during the Lions’ tour of Sri Lanka over the winter, taking eight wickets including five for 76 in the first innings.
Tongue burst onto the scene early, first representing the Lions at just 19, but was struck down with a nerve tissue problem to his harm, which kept him out of the game for almost 15 months between 2019 and 2022.
“I’m just proud of myself and how I held in there. I was very close to retiring just due to my shoulder. Having two operations, seeing a lot of specialists and I was in a really dark place,” the seamer said.
“I don’t think there’s that many bowlers who have been in the same situation as me. Obviously nearly retiring, then getting called up to the Lions in Sri Lanka in the winter and now obviously getting called into the test squad. I’m just proud of myself really.”
Brendon McCullum, England’s head coach, was full of praise for the seamer ahead of the highly-anticipated start to the international summer.
“He’s a big strong lad, that’s for sure,” McCullum said on Monday.
“He looks like he bowls quite fast and has some real skills. He is obviously a bit of a rough diamond, he’s had some injuries throughout his career and it is nice for a guy like him to be able to have an extended period of time where he has been injury free this summer to push his case.
“We think he has got something really exciting and hence we brought him into the squad. He looks like he has an immense amount of talent.”
England XI for the Test against Ireland:
1. Ben Duckett
2. Zak Crawley
3. Ollie Pope
4. Joe Root
5. Harry Brook
6. Ben Stokes (captain)
7. Jonathan Bairstow (wicketkeeper)
8. Stuart Broad
9. Matthew Potts
10. Josh Tongue (Debut)
11. Jack Leach
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