Josh Tongue produces stats that matter on prime numbers day

England's newest seamer showcases something old and honed and something new and developing

Stat-padding days are hard to come by, even for an England team that plays a lot of Test cricket. But on Friday at Lord's, it seemed everyone who made it out to the middle were able to touch up their personal statistics at the expense of a willing but lacking Ireland attack.
Ollie Pope registered a maiden double-hundred in his first official innings as vice-captain, which also happened to be the fastest made in England. Ben Duckett marked his first appearance at home in 27 international caps with not only a second century but beating Don Bradman's 166-ball record for the fastest 150 at Lord's by 16, also becoming the first since 1924 to score 100 runs before lunch at this venue. Joe Root pocketed a half-century that took him beyond 11,000 career runs. Even Harry Brook's nine not out allowed him to lift his Test strike rate back above 99 (to 99.03).
All Test runs are equal. But the 372 scored across the first 57.4 overs of day two were of questionable value, even if Pope, Duckett and Root will tell you otherwise. Not cheap in the most evocative sense of the word. More like excessive printing of money. There was a stage when it felt the longer the hosts batted, the less everything that came before it meant.
Of course, the speed of England's scoring allowed a declaration soon after tea to give them a lead of 352 and 26 overs to inflict damage on Ireland's second innings. Though even that had a whiff of ulterior motive. An extra Sunday on the golf course? Perhaps eyes on taking in Saturday's FA Cup Final at 3pm in its entirety?
But the day itself was not particularly special by this team's standards. These players scored quicker on the first day of the Pakistan series - 506 in 75 overs - which allowed them to win in fading light on the final day of that first Test in Rawalpindi. Now that - that - was a Test match.
There was, however, one set of numbers of meaningful currency. Josh Tongue got off the mark in Test cricket with 3 for 27, responsible for all the Irish batters to fall. Even James McCollum, who collapsed after twisting his ankle when swivelling to avoid a Tongue bouncer.
A day earlier, Tongue had sent down his first 13 overs in Ireland's first innings. He thought he started "quite well" for a debutant, and that's absolutely true. But it does not take long for the context of figures of 0 for 40 to get lost. Unfortunately, there is no opposite to stat-padding, making Friday evening's work all the more necessary.
That being said, the microdata backed up Tongue's assessment of his first day's work. He was the quickest of the attack, creeping over 90mph in his opening spell, and showcased the necessary pluck to lead the bumper tactic. Of the 78 deliveries bowled, 57 were short in length.
Considering the 25-year-old's groundings in county cricket, such as eight seasons on a New Road pitch best known for spending half the year underwater, short-pitched bowling is hardly something he is grooved for. There was dismay that he was not able to appropriate a fuller line for longer to at least chalk up a nourishing maiden dismissal.
The wait, however, was worth it. Because across an unbroken eight-over spell, Tongue was able to showcase both sides of what he offers. Something old and honed, and something new and developing.
Brought on from the Pavilion End after six overs, he attacked the stumps to pick up two wickets in his first six deliveries. PJ Moor was trapped on the crease in front of middle stump before Andy Balbirnie swished with minimal footwork at a delivery that left him and, really, should have been left altogether. Misjudgements of extra pace? Perhaps.
Three overs in, Ben Stokes pushed the leg side out, brought in the slips around the corner - two at one point - and put the order in: less at the stumps, more into the torsos. Paul Stirling was struck on the arm. Lorcan Tucker was hit on the helmet. When Harry Tector hooked a top edge for six over Jonny Bairstow's head, all the fielders united in applause for the direction and pace of the ball, with the same enthusiasm that greeted his first two wickets.
The third came soon enough: Stirling hopping and hooking at the same time, a glove through to Bairstow that was only confirmed upon review. And you could argue it was the most important. One of the key aspects to the bowling attack under Stokes is for variety, if not of arm then certainly of approach.
Given Tongue was preferred to Chris Woakes for his X-factor qualities - ergo, sharp, raw and, thus, unpredictable - he was never simply going to be allowed to go through his usual patter. While he has performed an enforcer role for his county, he looked refreshingly assured doing it for his country, on the biggest stage of his career so far.
Pope was suitably impressed: "I'm sure it's something he's done in county cricket (bowled short for a sustained period) but he is probably also going to be one of the main opening bowlers where he's going to get told to challenge the top of the stumps as well.
"For him to come in and bowl like he did there, with a different plan. As a bowler, you might want to hit the top of the stumps. But for him to dive into that role this evening, the way he did that was perfect and he's been awesome this week."
Ireland batting coach Gary Wilson was suitably jealous: "The way Tongue was able to change things almost instantly was something we didn't have in our attack."
Those around the England team have been impressed with how Tongue has fitted in this week. Even before his official call-up last Wednesday, he was put on alert that something might be in the offing and tested out a mild side strain that kept him out of Worcestershire's Division Two fixture with Leicestershire as a precaution. He pushed through with the help of county coach Alan Richardson, and was ultimately given the all clear to make the step up to the squad. A spot in the XI has come, ultimately, through impressive early impressions.
"You wouldn't know this was his first Test," said Pope, commenting on how comfortable Tongue seems to be around more seasoned Test cricketers. While you cannot apply that same description to his opponents, what he achieved with the ball was undoubtedly the biggest plus point for England on a day they dominated with the bat.
If day three does bring a maiden five-wicket haul, and a place on the Lord's honours board on debut, it will carry even greater weight going forward into the Ashes and beyond. Both, for him and England.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo