There’s no prouder moment than winning your first Test cap.
But one lucky punter will be just as happy when Josh Tongue pulls on his first England cap at Lord’s, thanks to a sneaky suspicion that the talent he saw 14 years ago in a young player would grow into something genuinely special.
Tim Piper placed a cheeky 100-pound bet that Tongue would one day play for England when he saw him play as an 11-year-old.
On Thursday, he won 50,000 pounds ($95,557) when the fast bowler made his international debut against Ireland.
Piper placed the 100-pound bet at odds of 500-1.
“I’ve kept the bet slip in a cupboard all these years,” he told BBC Sport.
“I just thought to myself, ‘It must be worth 100 pounds’. If he doesn’t make it, he’d make us proud anyway.
“This is just a bonus for him to get in the Test team.”
Tongue, the son of Piper’s club teammate Phil, was a spinner at the time, and the 56-year-old had seen enough to realise he was destined for great things.
“There was this little kid who bowled leg-spin, googlies and top-spinners. It was like Shane Warne,” Piper added.
Tongue, 25, switched to fast bowling when he moved to the Worcestershire academy, and Piper said he kept an eye on the bowler who went on to pick up 162 wickets in first-class cricket.
Tongue had, however, contemplated retirement during a 15-month shoulder-injury lay-off from 2021-22, before two operations and botox injections fixed the issue.
He finally earned his England call-up for this week’s one-off Test against Ireland at Lord’s after injury concerns over fellow quicks James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, who have been rested ahead of the Ashes.
“He had all those injuries, but I never gave up on him,” Piper added.
“I kept thinking, ‘Maybe it can happen.’ These last two weeks have been a mad turnaround.”