Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker believes he is gradually regaining the rhythm and form which pre-dated his lengthy lay-off with a stress fracture of the lower back.
The left arm spinner is in the top four wicket-takers in the 2023 Metro Bank One-Day Cup with 12 scalps at 25.58 and an economy rate of 5.46.
Baker picked up three more in Friday’s impressive win over Derbyshire Falcons at the Incora County Ground, including two in an over, and is now gearing up for Sunday’s final group match with Sussex Sharks at New Road. Tickets are £10 for adults and £1 for juniors if bought by midnight today.
A place in the knockout stages is up for grabs for the Rapids should they complete a third successive win.
Baker went straight from school into the first team two years ago.
He played 15 LV=Insurance County Championship matches on the trot, got selected for England Young Lions and was a One-Day Cup regular before injury ruled him out of the final third of 2022.
“It was part of a learning curve for the 20-year-old but Baker had slowly and surely regained his fitness and confidence and only Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Josh Hull and Paul van Meekeren have taken more One Day Cup wickets this summer.
Baker said: “I spoke to a few people about it, and there is a difference about being back to performance and feeling like you are bowling as well as you did last year – and I feel it’s starting to return.
“I was a bit off, probably wasn’t in the right mindset either, but I feel comfortable and it’s coming back.
“It’s a bit of a learning curve and I’ve come out the right side of it. Now it’s about just trying to keep getting better and trying to win games for Worcestershire.
“My parents have been a big help. They are there to pick me up, and also keep me down when I try and get too high when it’s going well.
“The coaches as well and obviously the players, have been massive for me as well.”
Baker and his team-mates are looking forward to another home game in front of a large crowd.
He said: “It’s a massive game. Hopefully another sell-out at New Road and, with the crowd behind us, we can get that win and get to the quarters and go a bit further.
“We spoke about it at the start of the year, try and get to Trent Bridge, for the final, Edgbaston in the T20 and get promoted to Division One. We got close in T20 and have got a really good chance in the 50 over and four-day stuff.
“Hopefully keep winning, keep this momentum going and hopefully win a few trophies this year.”
Jake Libby ©
Ben Cox (w)
Logan van Beek