Saturday, December 17th, 2022


Head Coach Alan Richardson has delivered an encouraging fitness up on the progress of spinner Josh Baker who suffered a stress reaction to his lower back last summer.

Richardson says the slow left-arm bowler has impressed Head of Sports Science and Medicine, Andy Powell, with his “mental strength” on the long road back to fitness.

He is back batting in the nets at Malvern, with the aim of putting together a return to bowling programme in the New Year when the squad returns from the festive break.

Baker missed the final third of the season, but the 19-year-old still played ten LV=Insurance County Championship matches in 2022 and was a regular member of the Rapids Vitality Blast squad.

Richardson revealed that discovering a passion for cycling had helped Baker on his way to recovery.

He said: “Josh is progressing well. He has been really impressive. Andy Powell has been blown away by the mental strength he has shown.

“We threw so much at him last year for a first-year professional. He played virtually every game, bowled so many overs, batted eight or nine, and ended up fielding in the slips.

“He took it all his stride and has taken this injury in his stride.

“It’s a tough time, and quite a few of us have been there, where you are out for an extended period. When you are young, you just want to continue playing cricket.

“Josh loves his cricket, so taking that away from him is incredibly tough.

“But he has thrown himself into the rehab work and is now hitting balls, which is fantastic, and is back up to speed, certainly with his batting.

“He’s having a little break, but in the New Year, we will put a return to bowling programme together with him. That’s exciting for him and exciting for the club.”

Richardson added: “Watching any player with a setback like this, it is intriguing to see how they deal with it.

“He had a hell of a journey last year, playing 10 Championship games and being involved in most of our T20s and squads, topped off by one of the worse injuries you can get as a bowler.

“Josh has now got a real love for cycling, and his fitness levels are going through the roof.

“He has started running again and is flying now, and it will be exciting when he gets the ball in his hand again.”

Richardson says long-serving pace bowler, Charlie Morris, is also making encouraging steps forward after missing the second half of the season with a knee problem.

He said: “Charlie is going nicely. He has just started bowling again, pretty low intensity. Indoor surfaces are probably not ideal with his knee, so we just have to take our time.

“But the plan is he will be fit and firing for the start of the season. He is in safe hands with Andy, and you will not meet a more diligent pro.

“Very confident Charlie will be flying by the start of the season.”

Morris picked up 21 wickets in eight Championship matches last summer to take his overall first class tally to 237.