London, June 1 (IANS) Former cricketer Mark Butcher believes England have handed a Test debut to uncapped fast bowler Josh Tongue due to his extra pace, something which was also seen when fellow pacer Matthew Potts was given his first Test cap last year.
Tongue, 25, has impressed for several seasons in domestic competitions for Worcestershire and was part of the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year. He was included initially in the England Test squad as a cover for James Anderson and Ollie Robinson nursing groin and ankle niggles.
His remarkable Test debut will come after almost retiring from the game due to a nagging nerve issue in his right shoulder, which needed two operations and Botox injections to solve in a 15-month layoff period.
Now, ahead of the one-off match against Ireland at Lord’s on Thursday, Tongue became England’s 711th cricketer in the longest format of the game, with Anderson giving him his first Test cap.
“I think they’ve decided they want that little bit of extra pace. He’s up at 86/87 mph. The type of bowler they’ve gone for — it was the same when they gave Matthew Potts his debut last summer.”
“It is that they want someone who is going to really run in and whack a length, hit the pitch hard and make something happen when it goes flat. They see that in Tongue,” Butcher was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
Tongue was selected ahead of pace all-rounder Chris Woakes, who was initially expected to be in the Test team after 14 months, especially after interacting with reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday.
Ex-captain Nasser Hussain thinks Tongue provides a different variety to the England bowling line-up who have also been hit by injuries to pacers Jofra Archer and Olly Stone. “Chris Woakes’ record at this ground is phenomenal — he got six-for when he bowled Ireland out here four years ago.”
“But Tongue was selected ahead of Woakes because they want that point of difference. Mark Wood is available but hasn’t played in a long time, Jofra Archer is injured and out for the summer, and Olly Stone is injured.”
“That’s why Tongue gets the nod. You don’t learn anything by playing another medium-quick in Woakes – however good he is. If suddenly you need an injection of pace in the Ashes, you’ve got to find it from somewhere and that’s why they want to have a look at this lad,” he concluded.