After signing a deal with Notts County, fast bowler claims there is no single cause for the mass departure from Worcestershire.
Josh Tongue says he’s leaving Worcestershire at the end of the season because he needs “a new challenge,” but he doesn’t feel there’s a smoking gun to explain the club’s exodus of a number of local players.
Tongue, who made his England debut this summer, will join Nottinghamshire when his contract expires, as will Dillon Pennington. Pat Brown is leaving Derbyshire after struggling with injuries after playing four T20Is in 2019, while Moeen Ali and Ed Barnard joined Warwickshire last winter.
A number of other Worcestershire players are out of contract at the end of the season, with Ashley Giles, who took over as chief executive earlier this month, in charge of discussions. Giles signed Lancashire hitter Rob Jones earlier this week, but Jack Haynes and Ben Cox are also poised to quit the club.
Tongue held negotiations with a number of counties before choosing on Nottinghamshire, who beat out Lancashire for his signing on an initial three-year contract. He stated that the chance to work with Notts bowling coach Kevin Shine again was a big influence in his decision, since he had previously worked with him as part of the ECB’s pace programme.
“I’ve been at the club since I was six years old and I’ve grown up playing for Worcester through the age groups and the academy and obviously signed my first pro deal there,” Tongue said during a #Funds4Runs session at Stockport Georgians Cricket Club hosted by LV= Insurance. “I have a huge heart for the club, but I’m at a point in my career where I need a new challenge and a new place to play.”
“I met with a few clubs, and Notts just really excited me with the way they play their cricket, and obviously the squad is very strong.” Peter Moores, the coach, and Kevin Shine, the bowling coach, were very appealing to me.
“I had something to do with Shiney when I was younger.” I believe that having a different set of eyes on me will aid me in determining how I can improve. We’ll see if it means more pace or placing myself in a better position at contact.”
When asked if there was a single cause for the departures, Tongue replied, “I don’t think so.” I’m not sure about the other guys departing, but at this point in my career, I simply felt like I wanted a change and to work with some new coaches and players. Obviously, that will hopefully help me in the future.”
Money, according to Moeen, whose brother Kadir is Worcestershire’s assistant coach, was a motivating factor for some departures. “I think it could be financial – it probably is with a couple of players,” he remarked. “However, I believe some players would prefer to play at a larger venue or a larger club.” It does not always work out, but best wishes to them.
“I used to love Worcester, and I still do. Obviously, my brother is there, as is the coach, Richo [Alan Richardson], so I still keep up with their growth. It’s unfortunate, but it’s always been a club or a county that has produced good players, and I’m confident they will continue to do so.”
Tongue and Pennington combined 12 wickets in Worcestershire’s win against Leicestershire this week at Oakham, putting them third in Division Two of the County Championship and only two points away from promotion. Richardson admitted to having conflicting feelings, but stated they would be chosen for the remainder of the summer.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed that they are leaving,” Richardson said, “but they are still our players, and they want to perform for us for the rest of the season, to help us achieve our goals.” Having them on the team improves us. We’re not going to change our minds because they’re leaving at the end of the season.”
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