Josh Baker: Worcestershire 'heartbroken' at death of 'vibrant' 20-year-old cricketer

Worcestershire County Cricket Club have announced that one of their players, 20-year-old Josh Baker, has died.

The spin bowler made 47 appearances across all formats for his county club, taking 70 wickets and was playing for the second team on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the news was announced.

No details about the circumstances of his death have been published and Worcestershire, who said they were "heartbroken" at the loss, have asked for his family to be shown "privacy and respect".

Baker, a former England under-19 international, took three wickets against Somerset at Bromsgrove on Wednesday, with the game abandoned as a draw on Thursday, and also played in two Vitality County Championship games last month.

Worcestershire said in a statement they were "heartbroken to announce the untimely passing of Josh Baker, who was aged only 20 years old.

"During this profoundly difficult time, the club is dedicated to supporting Josh's family, friends, and colleagues. We are united in our grief and committed to honouring his memory in a manner befitting the remarkable person he was.

"It was his vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met. His warmth, kindness, and professionalism were remarkable, making him a true credit to his family and a loved member of our team.

"Plans to pay tribute to Josh will be made in consultation with his family and will remain private at this time. The club, along with Josh's family, requests the respect of privacy as we mourn this immense loss. Further comments will not be provided during this sensitive period."

Worcestershire chief executive, the former England spinner Ashley Giles, offered a personal message.

"The news of Josh's passing has left us all devastated. Josh was much more than a team-mate; he was an integral part of our cricket family. We will all miss him terribly. All our love and prayers go out to Josh's family and friends," Giles said.

Baker turned professional in 2021, taking 43 wickets in 22 first-class appearances, the last of which came against Durham less than a fortnight ago.

He also played 17 List A games and eight T20s and was a travelling reserve for England at the under-19 World Cup in 2022.

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Condolences were offered from other county clubs and the England and Wales Cricket Board called it "devastating news" on X.

Daryl Mitchell, chief operating officer at the Professional Cricketers' Association and a former Worcestershire team-mate of Baker, wrote: "Bakes was an infectious character that became the life and soul of the dressing room at such a young age. Thoughts with the family and everyone at WCCC."

Pakistan spinner Usama Mir, another former New Road colleague of Baker's, added: "So sad and upset to hear the news of Josh's passing. He was one of the nicest people you could meet. And a brilliant cricketer. Really devastated to hear this news. Thoughts and prayers with his family."