Worcestershire CCC spinner Josh Baker has been named in the England Under-19 squad for their November tour of Sri Lanka to play a five-match limited overs series.
Baker recently signed a contract extension at New Road and earned his call-up after showing great promise during the second half of the 2021 campaign.
He played five LV=Insurance County Championship in addition to seven Royal London Cup matches.
The slow left arm spinner was part of the 2020-2021 Academy intake before signing his first rookie contract for Worcestershire.
He picked up 12 wickets in the Championship, bowled with great control for someone so inexperienced, and showed his promise with the bat in making 61 not out versus Middlesex at Lord’s.
The former Malvern College pupil then impressed when playing for the Young Lions in two internal matches at the National Performance Centre at Loughborough and in the opening game picked up four wickets.
He follows in the footsteps of Ed Barnard, Dillon Pennington, Josh Dell, Josh Tongue, Adam Finch and Jack Haynes of the current Worcestershire squad, who have all been selected for the Under-19s in recent years.
Redditch born Baker said: “It has been an incredible few months, the best summer I could have had, going from starting on the Academy 12 months ago to playing professional cricket for Worcestershire.
“It has been quite a crazy journey and one I’ve enjoyed, and now having the chance to represent your country is fantastic and what I dream of, really.
“It will be a huge learning curve, and Sri Lanka is normally renowned for being quite spin-friendly.
“It will be really good to bowl in different conditions, bowl on a turning wicket, and learn the trade of bowling in a different country.
“Quite a few of our lads at Worcestershire have played Under-19s, and they said it is great to be part of and to go and enjoy it.”
Baker impressed with the ball in the two matches for the Young Lions at the end of the summer before being part of their winter programme over a series of weekends.
He said: “It was one of the flattest wickets I have ever played on with 35-yard boundaries, so it was very much batsman-friendly conditions.
“The first three overs went for about 25 runs, but then I dragged it back quite nicely and four wickets for 60 odd runs, I was really happy about.
“I carried that on in the second game and was unlucky not to get a wicket. I had a couple of dropped catches off my bowling.
“The following weekend, we then had a spin biomechanics session, and all the spinners were put under a lot of testing, which was good because the info will come back to the counties and there are a few things to work on with Alan ((Richardson) in the winter.
“There were a few tips as well from Richard Dawson (England Under-19s Head Coach), which were helpful.”
Worcestershire Cricket Steering Group Chairman, Paul Pridgeon, said: “The progress made by Josh has been superb in such a short space of side.
“Sometimes with youngsters, you expect their form to fluctuate, but Josh has been remarkably consistent with his line and length.
“He has got great promise and will be looking to kick on again next summer, and this Under-19 call-up is fully deserved.
“It is great for the club to keep getting players recognised at this level and shows the quality of the young players we are producing.”
The tour is part of England’s preparation ahead of the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean starting in January.
The England Team will arrive in Sri Lanka on Monday 22 November and play five ODIs at the Singhalese Sports Club Cricket Ground, Colombo starting on Tuesday 30 November.
All matches and practice sessions will be conducted in a bio-secure environment.
The selection panel, headed up by Young Lions Head Coach Richard Dawson, have selected a 19-strong squad for the tour.
Commenting on the tour, Young Lions Head Coach, Richard Dawson, said:
“We are looking forward to touring Sri Lanka in what should be a challenging and exciting five-match ODI series. It’s a great opportunity for our squad to experience touring the sub-continent. It will give them a chance to play in a pressurised environment against their international peers in unfamiliar conditions.
“This trip is an integral part of their future development and will also provide good preparation leading into the ICC Men’s U19s World Cup in the Caribbean starting in January 2022.”
Young Lions Squad
Rehan Ahmed (Leicestershire)
Tom Aspinwall (Lancashire)
Josh Baker (Worcestershire)
Sonny Baker (Somerset)
Nathan Barnwell (Surrey)
George Bell (Lancashire)
Jacob Bethell (Warwickshire)
Josh Boyden (Lancashire)
Ben Cliff (Yorkshire)
James Coles (Sussex)
Harry Crawshaw (Durham)
Alex Horton (Glamorgan)
Dan Ibrahim (Sussex)
Will Luxton (Yorkshire)
Tom Prest (Hampshire)
James Rew (Somerset)
James Sales (Northamptonshire)
Fateh Singh (Nottinghamshire)
George Thomas (Somerset)
1st ODI – Sri Lanka v England, Tuesday 30 November 2021, SSC Ground, Colombo
2nd ODI – Sri Lanka v England, Friday 3 December 2021, SSC Ground, Colombo
3rd ODI – Sri Lanka v England, Sunday 5 December 2021, SSC Ground, Colombo
4th ODI – Sri Lanka v England, Wednesday 8 December 2021, SSC Ground, Colombo
5th ODI – Sri Lanka v England, Friday 10 December 2021, SSC Ground, Colombo