PROMISING teenage paceman Josh Tongue has committed his long-term future to the Pears by signing a new four-year contract.
The 19-year-old academy product has been praised for the impact he has made since returning from a back injury last season.
Earlier this summer, he became the first New Road player since Imran Arif in 2008 to take five wickets in an innings on his Championship debut, when he took 5-45 against Glamorgan in April.
“I’m really chuffed signing a longer deal with Worcestershire. It’s been my goal to get a longer contract and stay with the club,” said Tongue, who has just been selected by England Under-19s for the forthcoming series against India.
“It’s been amazing really how things have gone with my back operation in the winter and playing regular first-team cricket in the Championship.
“Worcestershire is a club that can definitely help me to develop my career. The coaches’ experience has been fantastic.
“I would like to say a big thank-you to Ben Davies (head of science and medicine) and Ross Dewar (strengthening and conditioning coach) for getting me fit for the start of the season.
“The work they have put in with me has been tremendous and I will always be grateful and indebted to their support.”
Tongue has now taken 30 wickets in the County Championship at an average of 24.27 to aid the Pears’ promotion push as the New Road outfit cemented second place in the Division Two table with a rain-hit draw against Durham at Chester-le-Street last week.
Tongue, who first played as part of Worcestershire’s youth system as a six-year-old in the Under-10s, still had two years remaining on the contract he had signed last July, but director of cricket Steve Rhodes said the new contract was to underline the desire of the county to keep hold of their best players.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be securing the services of one of our best young players,” he said.
“If he keeps going on this progressive curve, then there are future honours ahead for him. He’s one of the brightest young fast bowling talents around the country.
“He’s a guy who loves Worcestershire, enjoys playing at Worcester and wants to do well for Worcestershire.”
Redditch-born Tongue made his first class debut in the opening game of last season against Oxford MCCU when he picked up four wickets prior to his back problem.
Rhodes added: “If people had been at Oxford University last year, that was a real moment when we knew we had got a proper professional bowler with us.
“Then it was a case of trying to get him back to fitness. Our support team have done a marvellous job with him and so has Josh himself in his recovery.
“We’ve tried to manage him as best we can this season and he’s in a good place.”
Meanwhile, Tongue has initially been chosen for the first England U19s Test against India at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield from July 23 to 26.
Fellow Worcestershire prospect Adam Finch, who is only 17, has been called up for the five match ODI series against India in addition to a warm-up match for an Invitational X1 against India at Loughborough ahead of the Test Series.