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Josh Tongue: 'I needed a change at this stage of my career'

Fast bowler says no single reason for mass Worcestershire exodus after signing Notts deal

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
22-Jul-2023
Josh Tongue and Zak Crawley celebrate Usman Khawaja's wicket, England vs Australia, 2nd Ashes Test, Lord's, 1st day, June 28, 2023

Josh Tongue impressed in his two Tests at Lord's this summer  •  Associated Press

Josh Tongue says he is leaving Worcestershire at the end of the season because he needs "a new challenge" but does not believe there is a smoking gun that explains the exodus of a number of homegrown players from the club.
Tongue, who made his England debut this summer, will join Nottinghamshire at the end of his contract, with Dillon Pennington making the same move. Pat Brown, who has struggled with injury after playing four T20Is in 2019, is leaving for Derbyshire, while Moeen Ali and Ed Barnard joined Warwickshire last winter.
A number of other Worcestershire players are also out of contract at the end of the season, with Ashley Giles taking charge of negotiations after starting his job as chief executive earlier this month. Giles made Rob Jones, the Lancashire batter, his first signing earlier this week, but Jack Haynes and Ben Cox are both expected to leave the club.
Tongue held talks with a number of counties before settling on Nottinghamshire, who beat off strong interest from Lancashire to secure his signature on an initial three-year deal. He said that the opportunity to work with Notts bowling coach Kevin Shine again was a major factor in his decision, having previously been coached by 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, speaking at a #Funds4Runs session organised by LV= Insurance at Stockport Georgians Cricket Club. "I've got a massive heart for the club but I just feel like I'm at a time in my career when I need a new challenge and a new place to play.
"I had a few meetings with a different number of 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, really attracted me.
"I've had stuff to do with Shiney in the past, growing up. I feel that's going to benefit me, to have a different set of eyes on me to see how I can get better. If that's more pace, or getting me in a better position at contact, we'll see."
Asked if there was a single reason behind players leaving, Tongue said: "I don't think so. I'm not sure about the other lads leaving, but at my stage of my career now, I just felt like I needed a change and to work with some different coaches and different players. Obviously that is hopefully going to benefit me in the future."
Moeen, whose brother Kadir is Worcestershire's assistant coach, suggested that money was a motivating factor for some departures. "I think it could be financial - it probably is financial with a couple of players," he said. "But I think some players probably feel like they want to play at a bigger venue or a bigger club. It doesn't always work out, but good luck to them.
"I love Worcester, I still love Worcester. Obviously my brother's there and the coach, Richo [Alan Richardson], so I still follow their progress and stuff. It's a shame, but it's always been a club or a county that's produced good players and I'm sure they always will."
Tongue and Pennington shared 12 wickets between them in Worcestershire's win against Leicestershire at Oakham this week, leaving them third in Division Two of the County Championship and only two points off a promotion spot. Richardson admitted some mixed emotions, but said they would continue to be selected for the rest of the summer.
"Obviously I'm disappointed that they are leaving," Richardson said, "but at the same time they are still our players and they still want to perform for us for the rest of the season, to help us achieve our goals. Having them in the team makes us better. We aren't going to change our opinion on that just because they are leaving at the end of the season."
Josh Tongue was speaking on behalf of LV= Insurance, title sponsors of this summer's LV= Insurance Ashes Series. Head to https://www.lv.com/gi/cricket to find out more.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98