By John Curtis

Worcestershire v Essex

Specsavers County Championship division one - day one, close

Worcestershire paceman Josh Tongue gave another demonstration of his rich potential – and in front of ECB Player Pathway scout Geoff Arnold – as champions Essex were dismissed for 177 on day one of the Specsavers County Championship division one clash at Blackfinch New Road.

The 20-year-old was fast-tracked on to the England Pace Programme and then the England Lions training camp in Australia last winter after a first season of Championship cricket had yielded 47 wickets.

Tongue needed ankle surgery in January and the inclement weather restricted the number of overs he could get under his belt during the pre-season programme after his lay-off.

But the Academy product showed why he is regarded as such an outstanding prospect in destroying the Essex middle order as part of a highly-disciplined attack.

Tongue dismissed Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara in the space of 15 balls.

He then added the wicket of Jamie Porter for good measure to end with 4-45 from 15 overs as Essex were bowled out on the verge of tea.

Head Coach Kevin Sharp had revealed the Worcestershire players “wanted to put on a performance for the members” after losing the previous home match against Nottinghamshire by an innings and 41 runs inside five sessions of play.

His bowlers certainly lived up to that promise after Essex had opted to bat with Tongue, Steve Magoffin, Joe Leach and Ed Barnard keeping the batsman under pressure with a tight line and length in the morning session and then capturing eight wickets between lunch and tea.

Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Brett D’Oliveira were given a searching examination but they grew in confidence and steered their side to 47-0 before bad light intervened for a second time.

Magoffin made the first breakthrough when Varun Chopra (10), who returned to the side after Nick Browne had broken a finger yesterday in the New Road nets, sliced a catch to Barnard at gulley.

Tom Westley came into the game on the back of three successive ducks and had made only 15 before he played down the wrong line to Barnard and was bowled.

Alastair Cook survived an early run out scare before he had scored but played with typical composure in reaching 34 not out by lunch.

But the England opener added only three more - much to the relief of Worcestershire spinner Ben Twohig who is making his home debut.

He dropped a low chance offered by Cook at first slip of Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach but the very next ball held on to another more straightforward opportunity.

After Tongue’s fiery burst, Barnard struck twice in three overs with keeper James Foster (16) leg before and Mitchell holding onto a Simon Harmer nick on 22 which bounced up to him at second slip off the knee of keeper Ben Cox standing up.

Tongue returned to have Jamie Porter (6) caught behind before Leach bowled Peter Siddle – in the last game of his spell with Essex - for a second top score of 29.