A pub landlord will win £50,000 when Josh Tongue makes his Test debut for England against Ireland at Lord’s.
Tim Piper, who is 56 and runs the Cricketers Arms pub in Redditch, Worcestershire, bet £100 on Tongue to play for England when the fast bowler was 11. He got odds of 500-1 with bookmakers Coral, meaning that he will stand to earn £50,000 as soon as Tongue is presented with his Test cap.
On Tuesday, England confirmed that Tongue, who dismissed Australia’s star batsman Steve Smith lbw in a County Championship game earlier this season, would make his Test debut at Lord’s, becoming the 711th player to represent England in Test cricket.
“A couple of mates phoned me and said I should watch Sky Sports because he’s playing,” said Piper, who is a family friend of the Tongues. “I always thought they announced it on the day but I saw that he was playing! It’s wonderful.
“He was touch and go thinking of calling it a day and 12 months later here he is playing for England.
“Of course I’m not going to play down £50,000, but it’s just such a wonderful story in itself.
“When he was younger he started to get better and better, batting with pace and getting better with bowling.”
Piper originally tried to make the bet when Tongue was six, but the bookmakers did not allow him to do so.
“I phoned up the bookies when he was six but they didn’t take it seriously – I’m not sure why,” Piper said.
“I used to go and see him in the garden playing with his dad when he was just a year old and then when he was two or three he was playing in the nets and he knew how to bowl properly with leg-spin, top-spin and everything.
“But he got even better and by the time he was 11 I was able to place a bet on at 500/1 at Coral.”
Tongue, 25, has never played at Lord’s before. He was a late addition to England’s squad last week but has leapfrogged Chris Woakes to win a place in the side to play Ireland.
Head coach Brendon McCullum has described Tongue as a “rough diamond” and “big strong lad” who “looks like he bowls quite fast and has some real skills.”