Tim Piper saw Tong, a friend of his family, playing cricket in his backyard at age 11, and placed a bet with astronomical odds of 500 to 1 that he would become an English cricketer. It was a bet that has now put him on the world stage.
It was amazing, just wonderful, he told SEN. ‘I never dreamed it would be so popular, and people in the pub can see me talking to people in America, India, Australia, their friends texting them, saying, What the hell happened in Redditch.
Piper said he didn’t know about Tongue’s debut until Tuesday, when a friend called him with the good news. I saw he was starting, and sure enough, I ran upstairs and pulled out the bookie paper that had been sitting next to my passport for the last 14 years, he said. I thought I was betting to check that piece of paper, but I wrote and read it correctly.
More than the fortune he had amassed through his faith in Tonga’s talent, Piper was happy for the bowler’s family, who had worked so hard to make the cricket dream come true.
Although £50,000 is a fine sum for me, I’m so happy for the family, Piper added. This has been my friend for 35 years, this is his son, and I can see how much work he and his wife have put in to race this boy around England for the last 25 years. It’s great for the family, and they were on the field today when Jimmy Anderson handed him his cap. Just a fairy tale.
Tongue got his debut Thursday and got to work right away as England bowled first. Using a conservative approach, the 25-year-old went 0-40 for 13 weekends, with Stuart Broad doing the bulk of the wicket-taking duties, getting the 20th 5 overs of his career as Ireland were bowled out for 172 on day one.