Jamie Porter and Josh Tongue are to trade places on the International Pathway for the first half of the winter.
Porter, who was named the Specsavers County Championship player of the season by both the Cricket Writers’ Club and the Professional Cricketers’ Association after taking 75 wickets in Essex’s triumphant campaign, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back during profiling ahead of the Lions’ winter programme, and will now join the Pace Programme later this month – with a view to building up to Lions selection for the series against West Indies A in the New Year.
His place on the Lions training camp in Australia in November and December will be taken by Tongue, the 19-year-old who was ever-present in Worcestershire’s promotion-winning campaign in Division Two, and also took more than 50 first-class wickets.
James Whitaker, the National Selector, said: “While it was initially surprising and disappointing for Jamie and for us to discover he has a stress fracture, we have agreed with him and with Essex that this new approach is the best option.
“Spending the first half of the winter on the Pace Programme will allow him to take a break from competitive cricket after two excellent and demanding seasons for Essex, allowing the injury to recover, and for a focus on his rehabilitation.
“We believe that will give him the best chance of being in peak condition for the competitive phase of the Lions winter programme, with four-day and one-day series in the West Indies early next year.
“It also creates a space on the Lions camp in Australia, which represents a wonderful opportunity for young Josh Tongue.
“He is another exciting young fast bowler who made a major contribution to Worcestershire’s promotion campaign, and we believe he will benefit from the chance to work with the Lions and to spend some time in Australia in an Ashes winter.”
Kevin Shine, the ECB’s fast-bowling lead who heads up the Pace Programme, said: “As ever, we’ve worked closely with the players and their counties, and we think this is a good solution.
“Jamie relished his first Lions experience this summer and we’ve agreed with Essex for him to spend a couple of months with the Pace Programme, at the Performance Centre in Loughborough with a warm-weather camp at Desert Springs in Spain, to get him fit and ready to join the Lions in the West Indies after Christmas.
“For Josh, he gets to sample the Ashes atmosphere in Australia, as well as gaining experience of working with the Lions.”
The Lions leave for Brisbane on November 14, while the Pace Programme begins at the Performance Centre in Loughborough on October 30