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    Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker dies aged 20
Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker dies aged 20
Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker has died at the age of 20. Source: Getty Images

Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker dies aged 20

English cricket has been stunned by the news of the death of Worcestershire left-arm spinner Josh Baker at the age of 20.

In a club statement, Worcestershire declined to comment on the nature of Baker's death, asking for "privacy" on behalf of his family. Chief executive Ashley Giles said the club was "all devastated" by his death.

Baker, who signed his first contract with the club in 2021 at the age of 17, took 43 wickets in 22 first-class matches and a further 27 in 25 white-ball appearances.

He was also a burgeoning all-rounder, as evidenced by two half-centuries, including a career-best 75 against Gloucestershire in July 2023. Later that season, while batting in Worcestershire's final match against Yorkshire at Headingley, he scored the all-important run that secured a second batting point and the club's promotion to the top flight, prompting celebrations on the visitors' stand.

Born in Redditch and educated at Malvern College, Baker progressed through the age-groups at New Road and went on to represent England at Under-19 level. He signed a new three-year contract last season and spent the winter in Sydney, playing first-class cricket for Northern District CC in the New South Wales Premier League.

As recently as Wednesday, he had taken 3 for 66 in the first innings of Worcestershire's four-day 2nd XI Championship match against Somerset at Bromsgrove School. The match was called off early on the final day.

Worcestershire are not due to play in the County Championship round of fixtures starting on Friday and do not play again until 10 May when they travel to Kent. The five Championship games scheduled for this weekend are expected to go ahead, with players wearing black armbands in tribute.

Baker's most memorable moment came against Durham at New Road in May 2022, when, as an 18-year-old in his ninth first-class match, he faced Ben Stokes, fresh from his appointment as England captain and in the mood for a statement innings.

Baker was duly struck for 34 in one over - five sixes and a one-bounce four - but after finishing on 161 from 88 balls, Stokes sought out Baker on WhatsApp and sent him a message urging him not to "let today define the rest of your season".

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