Liam Moore profiles Worcestershire’s up-and-coming young quick.
TEAMS: Worcestershire, England under 19s
ROLE: Right-arm fast-medium bowler
WHO THE HELL? Tongue has had a fantastic first full season of professional cricket, taking 43 Championship wickets at an average of 25 at the time of writing. The 6ft 3in quick took a five-fer against Glamorgan in the second round of Championship fixtures and was subsequently included in the Telegraph‘s Team of the Week – an impressive achievement for someone who had only played two first-class games. Worcestershire have been so impressed by their young talent that in July they handed him a four-year contract that will keep him at New Road until at least the end of the 2021 campaign.
WHAT’S HIS STORY? With a cricket coach for a father, Tongue didn’t have to look far for advice when he was growing up. Regarded as the hottest bowling talent to come through the Worcestershire Academy for several years, he worked his way up the age groups, playing for the under 10s at the age of six, before making his first-class debut in March 2016 against Oxford MCCU. A back injury prevented him from playing more first-team cricket last year but he has made up for lost time in this campaign.
GOOD TIMES? After that five-wicket haul on his Championship debut against Glamorgan, Tongue inflicted more damage on the Welsh county by taking a career-best 6-97 at New Road in June, and scored 41 from No.10 in the same match – he is a capable enough batsman to have scored 150 in Birmingham league cricket. He also made his ‘Test’ debut for England under 19 in July, taking four wickets at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield. The new contract clearly meant a great deal to local lad brought up through the Worcestershire age-group system. “I’m really chuffed signing a longer deal with Worcestershire,” he said. “It’s been my goal to get a longer contract and stay with the club as long as I can. Worcestershire are a club who can definitely help me to develop my career.” That will come as music to the ears of the coaching staff at New Road after the county lost Tom Kohler-Cadmore, another bright talent, to Yorkshire earlier this season.
CHALLENGES? Tongue’s record has been fantastic in the longer format of the game but his stats don’t look quite so impressive in white-ball cricket at this early stage. He averaged 40 with the ball and went at a little under seven-an-over in the Royal London One-Day Cup, and had an economy-rate nearing nine in the NatWest T20 Blast. That shouldn’t concern him too much at this point, though. Worcestershire will be happy to keep him fit and bowling fast as he continues his development.
FINAL WORD: “He is one of the brightest young fast bowling talents around the country. He is a guy who loves Worcestershire, enjoys playing at Worcester and wants to do well for Worcestershire.” Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire director of cricket