Josh Baker: Parents 'broken' at death of 20-year-old Worcestershire County cricketer

The parents of Josh Baker, a cricketer who died at the age of 20, have said they are both "broken" following his shock death.

Worcestershire Country Cricket Club announced the death of the spin bowler on Thursday.

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

Paul and Lisa Baker shared a photo of them with their son taken at a cricket ground saying Josh "achieved many of his dreams before reaching 21".

They added: "Take every opportunity to hug your parents and your children. We've taken great comfort from the many messages received so far."

Tributes poured in for the young sportsman including England white-ball captain Jos Buttler writing on Instagram: "Incredibly sad news, thoughts and prayers with all Josh's family, friends and all at Worcs."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan posted on X: "This is so sad... Thoughts with all his family and close friends", as did ex-batsman Kevin Pietersen who wrote: "Goodness me, this is heartbreaking! Horrific news of this up-and-coming young cricketer leaving the world way too soon!"

Azhar Ali, the former Pakistani cricketer, wrote on X: "Really sad to hear this shocking news. Josh was a wonderful and bright boy always had a smile on his face."

Baker's former coach Shaftab Khalid said the news was "devastating", speaking to BBC Sport.

Khalid added: "Worcestershire lost not just a very talented cricketer but also an amazing and wonderful human being. He was such a nice, humble and sweet person."

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England Women's coach Jon Lewis echoed their sentiments and said his assistant coach Alex Gidman - who was Baker's head coach at Worcestershire and oversaw his development into a first-team cricketer - was rocked by the tragedy.

"It's really shocking. I spoke to Alex and he was pretty cut up about it," Lewis said. "He gave Josh his first contract at Worcestershire, so he was quite connected to that part of cricket. Cricket is an incredibly small world and it's really sad."

Many county grounds had their flags at half-mast on Friday ahead of fixtures, with teams observing a minute's silence before play getting under way and some electing to wear black armbands.

Worcestershire invited fans to sign a book of condolence in memory of Baker and opened a space at their New Road ground to allow supporters to pay tribute.

They were "heartbroken" at the loss and asked for Baker's family to be shown "privacy and respect".

The former England under-19 international had taken 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.

No further details about the circumstances of his death have been published.

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.