Worcestershire bowler Josh Tongue eager to make impression with England Lions
"We'll be in and around the England squad a bit so I've got to make sure I bowl as well as I can in those sessions to impress the England staff and the players."
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 15/11/17 5:10pm
Josh Tongue is eager to make an impression with the England Lions - but the Worcestershire bowler is not thinking of a full call-up to the senior side just yet.
The 20-year-old, who took 47 County Championship wickets last summer, was originally called up to this winter's Pace Programme, but he was drafted into the Lions set-up following an injury to Essex seamer Jamie Porter.
Tongue is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
"It was surreal really [getting the call-up to the Lions]," Tongue told Sky Sports.
"From having a stress fracture last year to playing the full season for Worcestershire and then being selected for the Pace Programme, which was a massive achievement, it's been a successful year for me. Then getting picked for the Lions was even better.
"I can't really say how much it means to me. It's a great chance to make an impression. We'll be in and around the England squad a bit so I've got to make sure I bowl as well as I can in those sessions to impress the England staff and the players. That would be a really good thing for me going forward."
Tongue, who has featured for England's U19s, has been tipped for a bright future in the game and was described as "something really special" by his Worcestershire team-mate and Australia all-rounder John Hastings.
He has got a massive future in the game. I like to see young kids do well in the game and for a 19-year-old he is something really special.
While an England call-up is the goal for Tongue, it is not something he is focusing on at the moment.
"It's something for the future," he said. "I don't really want to dwell on it too much because it's not for me to worry about. I just want to get to Australia, do my own thing and not think about it too much. I want to impress the coaches and if it comes, it comes."
"It's nice to see your name linked with England. When I do see these things I think it's nice but, to be honest, I do not think too much of it. I know I've still got a lot to learn in this game so I do not take too much notice of the praise or the England links. I just try to be myself and what will be, will be."
The Lions are scheduled to play a three-day match and three T20s before returning to England, but the squad will also join up with the senior England players for practice at various times during the tour.
Bowling at England captain Joe Root and England's all-time leading Test run scorer Alastair Cook will be a new experience for Tongue, and he's ready to learn from the challenge.
He is one of the brightest young fast bowling talents around the country.
Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire director of cricket
"I haven't bowled at any of them before," he said. "This will be the first time and it will be a little bit different to second division Championship cricket.
"I've got to try and make sure I work them out and see how they go about things - bowling against better batsmen will help me gain more experience.
"They've played top-level cricket so I can hopefully pick their brains about different types of pitches, different types of playing conditions and different players. It's a really good opportunity for me."
Tongue is also looking forward to getting the opportunity to pick the brains of England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, James Anderson.
When asked which bowler from the current England attack he has looked up to, Tonge said: "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."