Worcestershire paceman Josh Tongue believes he is ready to kick start his season after his four wicket haul helped to bowl Essex out for 177 on day one of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Blackfinch New Road.
Tongue admits he has so far struggled to find his rhythm after an ankle operation in February and a shortage of match cricket under his belt with the pre-season programme decimated by the weather.
But he felt back to his best against the Division One champions and a three wicket burst in three overs after lunch accounted for Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara to put Worcestershire in the driving seat.
Tongue, part of the ECB Pace Programme and England Lions camp in Australia this winter, ended the innings with figures of 4-45 and posed a constant threat.
He said: “It was good for me personally to get a few wickets because I feel so far this year that I haven’t got my rhythm.
“It has gone okay, it could have been better, but this game I feel like I’ve nailed it and from today is going to kick start my season.
“I just tried to hit the pitch hard and hopefully the ball did enough to get a nick
“I think it was just about having confidence in my ankle and knowing it is not going to hurt really and getting confidence back into myself.
“I had the Lions trip but ever since that I hadn’t been able to get much bowling in but now I’ve got more overs into my legs and am getting more confident, hopefully I will get more wickets.
“To get 47 wickets last season was quite a lot for a youngster, especially in the first season and now I’m playing in Division One and the players are a lot better.
“I’ll just try to do what I normally do, hit a line and length and get my rhythm.”
Worcestershire ended the day on 43-0 before bad light brought about an early finish.
Tongue said: “It was a good day for the team. After losing the toss and with them electing to bat, it was a great effort by the unit to bowl them out for 170 odd.
“With Leachy and Mags setting up the tone at the start, and then myself and Barny after, I reckon that is the key, to make sure everyone is hitting their line and length.
“We tried to make them play as much as possible and we did that very well. Everyone stuck to their guns and got their rewards.
“There is a bit of bounce. Especially at New Road, you don’t normally see much of that bounce and it is nice to see that as a bowler and have the nicks carry.
“It was a difficult start to the season but playing and drawing at Surrey last week helped us and made us a lot more confident for this game and it obviously showed today.
“The openers then did a good job. In that light, we could have lost a few wickets but they played really well.”
Tongue said the players are keen to impress the County’s members and supporters with a good performance.
He said: “That is what we want to see, all the members happy. Tomorrow we will try and get the runs on the board, then try and bowl them out again and try and win the game.
“I reckon the supporters would be happy with that. If we can get a lot of runs on the board and build scoreboard pressure….”