Josh Tongue was always destined to be a cricketer, but even with that in mind his rise has been remarkable.
The son of a coach, Phil, he’s been part of the set-up at New Road since he was just six years old, and was already being talked up in the local press in 2008 when he was just ten.
At the time he was as much a batsman as a bowler, but as time has gone by, Tongue has developed into one of the leading fast bowling prospects in the country.
So much so that he was called into the England Lions squad last month after just one full season of senior cricket. Such is the 20-year-old’s reputation that he has already been earmarked as a potential international and for Tongue there was no question that he was always going to make it as a cricketer.
He said: “I have beenhere at Worcestershire since I was six years old and my dad was always getting me involved in the cricket.
“He played when he was younger and that’s where it all started really. I played in the academy under Gavin Haynes and then played club cricket in a few places.
“I played in Redditch, Ombersley and Barnard’s Green, and my brother Ryan is still there.
“He had a great year, getting over a thousand runs and lots of hundreds, so all the family loves cricket.”
As well as his grounding at New Road, Tongue also learned his trade at King’s School and he even returned there this month to take a coaching clinic.
His progress hasn’t all been smooth though. Tongue made his first-class debut at the start of last season against Oxford MCCU, but a stress fracture derailed his season.
That left him requiring surgery, and he still has screws in his back as a result. However this season Tongue was able to stay fit and force his way into Steve Rhodes’ thoughts with his consistent wicket-taking.
He ended up with 47 wickets as Worcestershire clinched the Division Two title, and Tongue admits he couldn’t have asked for a better season.
He added: “I had the back operation last winter so definitely wasn’t expecting to have such a busy season. I only thought I’d play five or six games, so it was great to play as many as I did and to take those wickets.
“One of my goals was to help the team push for promotion and it was an amazing feeling to be a part of. Then the call-up to the Lions, it’s been great.”
Tongue and the rest of the Lions have now landed in Australia and he cannot wait to get some tips from Jimmy Anderson, his idol growing up.
He added: “It has to be Anderson. He’s England’s leading Test wicket-taker and he’s been the main bowler I’ve been watching over the last nine years.
“The longevity of his career has been absolutely amazing and it’s a definite example to any young bowler. If the time allows I will definitely trying to pick his brains along with all the other England bowlers.”