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Josh Baker admits he's in a dreamland after meteoric rise to Worcestershire 1st team

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Teenager Josh Baker admits he is in dreamland after a meteoric rise from school to Worcestershire’s first team in the space of a month – and sharing a dressing room with his hero Moeen Ali.

The left-arm spinner completed five years at Malvern College and is planning to continue his education at Leeds University after a gap year.

That 12 months will be spent focusing on cricket with Worcestershire where Baker has been part of the pathway since first playing for the under-9s. His rise up the ladder at New Road has been rapid.

The 18-year-old made a favourable impression with the Seconds, finishing as their leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket. He then became the first Worcestershire player to take a Second XI Championship hat-trick for 19 years against Nottinghamshire.

It led to him earning his first rookie professional contract until the end of the 2022 season and promotion to the first team soon followed.

He impressed on his LV=Insurance County Championship debut against Warwickshire, being introduced into the attack as early as the 10th over and collecting fine scalps in Sam Hain and Bears' captain Will Rhodes.

A debut in the Royal London Cup against Kent soon followed and another mature performance was capped when he struck the winning boundary.

Baker then was entrusted with the penultimate over against Gloucestershire at Bristol in a rain-hit game and conceded just four runs as the Rapids squeezed home.

He has found the task more challenging in the past couple of games but there is no doubt Baker is earmarked for a bright future.

He said: “I did quite well in the Seconds and now I’m here which is quite a shock. I had a week where I signed a contract, took a hat-trick for the Seconds and got my first senior wicket. It is what dreams are made of.

“It has given me a hunger and appetite for more of it (first team cricket). I try not to get fazed, do the basics well and just enjoy it. I haven’t really felt out of my depth which is a good thing.

“But I know it’s a massive learning curve for me and I want to take as much on board as I can on good and not so good days. Earning my first contract has given me massive confidence."

The Redditch got the opportunity to share the same dressing room as Moeen Ali in a second-team game.

He said: “One minute I’m watching Moeen playing on TV and the next minute I was sharing a dressing room with him.

“Moeen was one of my heroes, someone I’ve always looked up to. He talked to me about different bowling plans and I picked up so much even from that short time.

“It was incredible. You can learn so much from him about field settings and general knowledge of the game.”

By John Curtis