Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker says bowling long spells and doing battle with the cream of batting talent can only improve and develop his game.
Baker bowled the most overs he has ever delivered in an innings – 44 – in the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground.
He relished the challenge of bowling at Pakistan batter and Derbyshire century-maker Shan Masood who is the leading run-scorer in the country.
Baker eventually finished with 3-150 and also had a catch dropped off his bowling as Derbyshire totalled 565-8 declared from 153 overs.
Worcestershire replied with 59-1 in their second innings and will begin day four 138 runs in arrears.
Baker said: “It was a long day, the sun was out and fielded for 150 overs, it felt like a very long time.
“But I tried to keep going, tried to keep landing the ball on the spot. I quite like bowling long spells.
“I find with that I can get into a good rhythm. I wasn’t really concerned about bowling a long spell although my legs are a bit tired now.
“It was the most overs I’ve bowled in an innings by some way.
“I got through 28 for the Academy in a game two years ago, and 30 against Leicestershire at the start of this season.
“But I enjoyed it today and it was a good bit of graft.”
Masood has now scored 826 first class runs this season, including two double centuries and 113 in this game.
Baker said: “He is a good player, up there with the best players I’ve bowled to.
“I felt if I overpitched that he was going to whack me through the covers so it was a very tight margin.
“But I guess bowling to the best players is going to help me improve the most. A good challenge, the sort I relish.”
Baker admits he has to learn to cope with the inevitable ups and downs that are part of the life of a professional cricketer.
He said: “I want everything to be perfect. I’m just trying to learn that in cricket you have up and downs.
“It’s about riding the ‘up’ periods, trying to have as many of those as you can, but trying not to let the ‘down’ periods get you down.
“If I’ve had one of those days then someone like Brett (D’Oliveira) or Ed (Pollock) like to try and take my mind off the cricket, try and joke with me, which is nice.”
Baker is confident that Worcestershire can safely negotiate the final day and claim the eight points at stake for a share of the spoils in addition to six bonus points.
He said: “Can we bat the game out? I think so. It is a pretty good batting wicket. The sun has been out today so it’s got a little bit slower and flatter.
“Hopefully we will be able to bat long tomorrow, like we did against Durham last weekend, which would be good.”