Worcestershire spinner Josh Baker has declared himself fit and ready for the start of the 2023 season after fully recovering from a back problem.
Baker missed the final third of last summer with a stress reaction to the lower back after playing in the opening 10 matches in the LV=Insurance County Championship.
After being a first-team regular for 12 months after breaking into the side in July 2021, it was a challenging period for the slow left armer.
But Baker, who did not require surgery, gradually built up his fitness, returned to bowling in the New Year and continued his programme successfully during the recent training camp in Desert Springs.
Now the Redditch-born player, who has taken 35 first class wickets, is available for selection for the pre-season programme.
He said: “My back is okay, there is no pain, and I’m already for the new season and looking forward to it.
“I started bowling when I came back after Christmas in the nets at Malvern and have been building it up from there.
“I’m back to my full run-up and, in Desert Springs, got through about 10 overs a day. I’m back to pretty much full tilt.
“It was a bit of a shock and quite upsetting at the time, But I’ve looked upon it as a little bump in the road and it’s good to be back and I’m available to play in the pre-season games.”
Baker said the backing he received from his mum and dad and the Worcestershire coaches, support staff and players helped him to cope with his injury.
The Astwood Bank CC youth player said: “I remember getting the news when I was sat on the sofa at home, and there were a few tears, but mum and dad were really supportive.
“The lads have been really supportive, and the coaches. Some of them have suffered similar injuries, and they said, ‘you will have a bit of pain, but it will go; just stick with it.’
“Andrew Powell (Head of Sports Science And Medicine) has been really good in setting out my routine and things like that.
“I had a month before I started rehab, and then it was a few movements, then sitting on the bike. I did quite a bit of cycling, which I quite enjoyed. I could pedal away and watch the cricket.
“I then started to build up the gym work, and then it was running and finally starting to bowl again. I’m quite an active person, and having to sit on the sofa really got to me but, as soon as I started cycling, I felt my mood change which was nice.”