Ben Stokes impressed with Josh Tongue’s versatility

Ben Stokes was effusive in his praise of England’s latest debutant Josh Tongue who took to international cricket like a duck to water, scalping a fifer in the second innings against Ireland. Tongue was a fresh face in the squad as Stokes and the management emphasized the need for a rapid enforcer in the seam attack. The 25-year-old’s approach with the ball at different junctures of the game has left his captain impressed.

“I told him the role that I saw him playing in this team as our third seamer, and used him in a way to get different types of spells out of one bowler,” Stokes added.

“His first spell, he came on and bowled really well pitching the ball up. Then we looked to use his pace to use him as the aggressor when we needed to and the wicket got a bit flat. For him to show he’s more than one type of bowler does us the world of good as a team going forward, knowing we’ve found someone else who can fulfil the role of the guys with the extra pace”

With Jofra Archer ruled out for the near future and Mark Wood nursing niggles, England have been on the hunt for a fast bowler who can rock the speed gun and hustle batters with pace, given the lack of variety in their fast-bowling group.

While a Test match in England against an opposition that isn’t exactly bristling with quality isn’t the ideal yardstick to judge his performance, Tongue did tick the basics. Apart from having those extra yards, Tongue can also do a fine holding job and has the requisite fitness to bowl long dry spells.

“Bowling the long spell yesterday and two long spells today, I wasn’t quite sure of how to manage him so early on,” said Stokes. “But I was very, very impressed with the way he just said yes to the plans I wanted him to operate under.”

While Tongue’s form in the County Championship this season has been lukewarm, he’s always had a knack of drawing attention. With a tall frame and long levers, Tongue is able to clock speeds north of 140kmph and extract good bounce, a combination that can intimidate the best of players. Having endured a fruitless toil in the first innings at Lord’s, Tongue proved his mettle in the second essay.

“He was very unlucky not to get a wicket in the first innings but he definitely reaped the rewards [in the second],” Stokes said. “The way he bowled contributed to the five wickets he got in that innings because they were already on the back foot against him, knowing he’s got that extra bit of pace. He can bowl 90mph full and short, so he was sort of one step ahead in the second innings already because of how he bowled in the first innings.”

Broadcast Schedule

England v Pakistan 2024 T20 series
1st T20, ENG v PAK, Headingley
22nd May
Start time: 6:30 pm BST