Josh Tongue is set to make his England debut after being named Tuesday in the XI to play Ireland in this week’s one-off Test at Lord’s.
The 25-year-old Worcestershire quick was initially only called up as cover due to injury concerns over pacemen James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, both of whom are now being rested prior to the start of the Ashes next month.
But Tongue was surprisingly chosen ahead of the more experienced duo of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood after England took the unusual decision to name their side two days before Thursday’s start.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Tongue told reporters. “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,” added Tongue, who has taken 11 wickets in this season’s County Championship, including that of Steve Smith when the Australia star was playing for Sussex.
Thursday’s match will be the first time he has played at Lord’s, ‘The Home of Cricket’, with Tongue saying: “It’s an amazing feeling, and to make my Test debut as well.”
England will hope an attack of three frontline quicks, led by veteran Stuart Broad and including Matthew Potts, as well as spinner Jack Leach, can do the job in the four-day match against Ireland.
That is because concerns remain over captain Ben Stokes’s bowling fitness due to the all-rounder’s longstanding knee problem.
Tongue, who has played for England’s second-tier Lions team, averages just over 26 with the ball in first-class cricket.
But he contemplated retirement after 15 months on the sidelines between 2021 and 2022 because of a nerve problem in his shoulder that left him unable to feel his right arm.
England coach Brendon McCullum labelled Tongue a “rough diamond” on Monday as he praised his pace and “real skills”.
McCullum, a former New Zealand captain, added: “We think he has got something really exciting … He looks like he has an immense amount of talent.”
With Jofra Archer ruled out for the whole season and Olly Stone currently sidelined, Tongue’s inclusion means he is in contention for the hotly anticipated five-match series against Australia.
But Tongue said: “I’m the sort of person to stay in the present … I’m not really thinking about the Ashes as such at the minute.”
Jonny Bairstow will make his first international appearance since last August after his superb form came to an abrupt end when a freak accident on a golf course in September left him with multiple leg injuries.
Bairstow will keep wicket after England controversially dropped Surrey gloveman Ben Foakes.
Harry Brook, who seized his chance in the absence of Yorkshire colleague Bairstow, is listed to come in at No 5 after four centuries in five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand during the 2022-23 tour programme.
Meanwhile, opener Zak Crawley has retained his place in a top order featuring former skipper Joe Root at four.
England team – Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts, Josh Tongue, Jack Leach
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