Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Heartbreaking video emerges of cricket star Josh Baker taking three wickets in his last match just hours before his death aged 20

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A heartbreaking video has shown Josh Baker taking three wickets for Worcestershire just hours before his tragic death.

The cricket world was sent into shock on Thursday when Baker’s club revealed the 20-year-old had passed away before tributes began to flow in for the talented spinner.

Mail Sport has since learned that Baker was found dead in his apartment by a friend after he didn’t show up for the start of play on the third day of his team’s match against Somerset.

Baker, who played 47 times for his county after turning pro in 2021, was taking part in a second team game in his home county when he died, with the match abandoned and ruled a draw following the news.

A matter of hours before his passing, Worcestershire’s X (formerly Twitter) account shared a compilation of the youngster’s efforts on Wednesday during the match.

Footage has emerged of cricketer Josh Baker taking three wickets for Worcestershire just hours before his death

Cricket star Josh Baker (centre) was found dead in his apartment by a friend after he didn't show up for the start of play

Cricket star Josh Baker (centre) was found dead in his apartment by a friend after he didn’t show up for the start of play

Worcestershire said they were  'heartbroken' at the death of 20-year-old spinner Baker, who was found dead on Thursday

Worcestershire said they were  ‘heartbroken’ at the death of 20-year-old spinner Baker, who was found dead on Thursday

Baker was playing in a second team game against Somerset when he was found by a friend

He took three wickets in the match, including that of England star Jack Leach (pictured)

Baker was playing in a second team game against Somerset when he was found by a friend

Baker picked up three wickets with his left-arm orthodox bowling, dismissing Thomas Rew – brother of England hopeful James – Josh Thomas and current England star Jack Leach.

He can first be seen taking the wicket of wicketkeeper Rew via LBW, lodging a passionate appeal before the umpire gives the decision as out.

The wicket of Leach then falls, with the Somerset man spooning a shot up into the air and Baker taking the catch off his own bowling.

Thomas can then be seen falling in the same way, with Baker leaning forward to take the catch.

Baker was due back on the field in Bromsgrove on Thursday but the game has now come to an end, with Worcestershire’s first team not in action in the County Championship this week.

He had played twice for his side’s first team this season.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan led tributes to Baker on social media from the wider cricketing world.

‘This is so sad.. Thoughts with all his family & close friends,’ Vaughan wrote.

No further details have been shared about the circumstances of the youngster’s passing, with the club requesting privacy and respect for his family.

The spinner played 47 times for county Worcestershire after becoming a professional in 2021

The spinner played 47 times for county Worcestershire after becoming a professional in 2021 

The left-arm bowler was a travelling reserve for England at the Under-19 World Cup in 2022

The left-arm bowler was a travelling reserve for England at the Under-19 World Cup in 2022

Worcestershire said Baker had 'vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met'

Worcestershire said Baker had ‘vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met’

Former England captain Michael Vaughan offered a tribute to Baker on social media

Former England captain Michael Vaughan offered a tribute to Baker on social media

Worcestershire’s statement referred to Baker’s ‘untimely passing’ and asked for his family’s privacy to be respected.

The statement read: ‘Worcestershire County Cricket Club is 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.

Worcestershire confirmed Baker's death on social media having played for the second team on Wednesday

Worcestershire confirmed Baker’s death on social media having played for the second team on Wednesday

The ECB said it is 'desperately sad to learn of the passing of Baker'

The ECB said it is ‘desperately sad to learn of the passing of Baker’ 

‘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,’ said Giles.

Baker took a total of 43 wickets in 22 First-Class appearances, the last of which coming 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.

The England and Wales Cricket Board also offered their condolences to Baker’s family and friends.

‘The ECB is desperately sad to learn of the passing of Josh Baker,’ a statement read.

Ben Stokes had previously sent a message to Baker after the two played against each other

Ben Stokes had previously sent a message to Baker after the two played against each other

‘This is devastating news. We extend our best wishes to Josh’s family and friends, to everyone who knew and loved him, and to everyone at Worcestershire CCC.’

Daryl Mitchell, chief operating officer at the Professional Cricketers’ Association and one time 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.’

PCA chief executive Rob Lynch said the news was ‘impossible to comprehend’, while the ECB’s managing director of men’s cricket, Rob Key, tweeted: ‘This is absolutely heartbreaking. My thoughts go out to all of Josh’s family.’

England captain Ben Stokes sent Baker a heartwarming message after they faced off on-the-field two years ago.

Stokes smashed five sixes off Baker’s bowling in one over in the game when the spinner was just 18, but took the time to send him a text message of encouragement in the aftermath.

‘You’ve got serious potential and I think you’ll go a long way,’ Stokes wrote. ‘Most important opinion is from the lads in your changing room, and they will have your back.’

Last year, A video of Stokes’ innings in the game was shared by cricket publication Wisden on X (formerly Twitter), and Baker replied to the post, which features some of Stokes’ shots off the then-teenager’s bowling.

‘A day to remember…’ Baker wrote, accompanied by a face with a peeking eye emoji. The post was Baker’s last before his death.

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