Academy Director Elliot Wilson says Worcestershire CCC spinner Josh Baker’s potential was evident from a very early age.
Baker was this week named in the England Under-19 squad for the November-December tour of Sri Lanka.
Wilson saw the accuracy and threat to opposition batters that Baker has demonstrated this summer in the first team from the time he worked with him in the Under-11s on the pathway.
After making his first-team breakthrough in early July, he did not look back and played in five LV=Insurance County Championship, and seven Royal London Cup matches.
It led to him signing a contract extension at New Road and working with the England Under-19s during the past few weeks at the National Performance Centre at Loughborough before his call-up to tour Sri Lanka.
Wilson said: “We had a group of spinners all come into the Under-11s – Josh Dickenson, Josh Baker, Ben Sutton.
“They all came into that group at the same time, and it was a case of thinking ‘we’ve got a talented group of young spinners here.’
“But, from a very early age, it was evident Josh (Baker) had a super strength which was his accuracy.
“Batters found him very hard to get away. He bowled very straight and has always been quite tall.
“There were other parts of his game that needed to develop. Over a period of time, he played a lot of cricket in many teams where he would get to bowl but not bat.
“But he has taken his chance this summer, primarily with the ball but also with the bat, and I was pleased to see him get those runs at Lord’s (61 not out v Middlesex).
“He has played five Championship games now and several 50 over matches, quite a lot of cricket on the bounce for a youngster.
“I imagine he would have been quite tired at the end of the season, but the momentum and adrenalin would have got him through.”
Wilson added: “It is unusual for a youngster to stay in the team for an extended period after making their debut, but he has been picked because he is good enough.
“Josh has stayed in the side because he has been consistent.
“He has been able to do something that other players haven’t been able to do before him, which is hold a line and length, control the game, make it difficult for the opposition to score, and he has also posed a threat.
“It’s brilliant now that he has got the England Under-19s call-up.”