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Josh Baker dies aged 20 as Australian and English cricket communities mourn rising star

The cricket world is mourning the shocking death of 20-year-old player Josh Baker during a County Cricket reserves match in England.

Baker had been playing for Worcestershire’s second XI against Somerset this week and took three wickets on the third day.

But he never showed up the next morning for the fourth and final day.

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The match, which resumed without Baker, was abandoned at lunch after he was found dead.

“Heartbroken” Worcestershire officials announced the “immense loss” at 4pm local time.

“The news of Josh’s passing has left us all devastated,” said chief executive and former England player Ashley Giles.

“Josh was much more than a teammate; he was an integral part of our cricket family. We will all miss him terribly. “All our love and prayers go out to Josh’s family and friends.”

Worcestershire has not revealed the cause of death.

Baker, who was just two weeks away from celebrating his 21st birthday, had spent the summer in Australia playing for Northern Districts in New South Wales.

Josh Baker was a rising star at Worcestershire. Credit: Daniel Mullan/fake images

The spinner had enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks since making his first-class debut in 2021.

In just his ninth match, England captain Ben Stokes, who had scored a blistering century against Worcestershire, sought him out to send him a text message of support.

“[Don’t]let today define the rest of your season. “You have great potential and believe you will go far,” Stokes wrote.

Worcestershire described Baker as a “popular figure” who was “more than his skills as a bowler”.

“It was his vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met,” the club wrote.

“His warmth, kindness and professionalism were remarkable, making him a true credit to his family and a beloved member of our team.”

Worcestershire has pledged to support Baker’s family, friends and team-mates.

“We are united in our grief and committed to honoring his memory in a way befitting the extraordinary person he was,” the club wrote.

“Plans to honor Josh will be made in consultation with his family and will remain private at this time.”

Baker played for England youth teams. Credit: Michael Steele/CPI via Getty Images

Baker’s local club, Kenilworth Wardens, were “shocked and devastated” to hear the news.

“Josh joined our club in 2021; Since then, we have shared many happy moments together on and off the field and look forward to sharing many more,” Kenilworth wrote.

“We send all our love to Paul, Lisa and their family.”

Pakistan international Usama Mir, a T20 Blast teammate, wrote: “I am very sad and upset to hear the news of Josh’s passing. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. And a brilliant cricketer. Truly devastated to hear this news.”