England captain Ben Stokes’ touching message to young cricketer Josh Baker prior to his death

Ben Stokes sent a touching text message to Josh Baker when the pair faced off in county cricket, two years before the young star’s tragic death.

Emotional tributes have been flowing for Baker, 20, after the young spinner’s shock death, as The Sun reports.

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Back in May 2022, Baker’s Worcestershire side faced off with Stokes’ Durham.

Baker, then 18, was hit for five sixes by the England captain – but in a touching gesture, Stokes asked for the spinner’s phone number to send him a message wishing him well after the game.

In the message, Stokes said: “You’ve got serious potential and I think you’ll go a long way.

“Most important opinion is from the lads in your changing room and they will have your back.”

It comes after the devastating news the 20-year-old Baker has passed away.

A statement from the club released on Friday (AEST) said: “Worcestershire County Cricket Club is heartbroken to announce the untimely passing of Josh Baker, who was aged only 20 years old.

“Josh turned professional with the Club in 2021 and quickly became a popular figure within the squad.

“More than his skills as a spin bowler, it was his vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met.

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

Ashley Giles, Worcestershire’s CEO, added: “The news of Josh’s passing has left us all devastated.

“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.”

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The club has confirmed it is supporting Josh’s family and plans to “honour his memory in a manner befitting the remarkable person he was”.

A statement from the ECB said: “The ECB is desperately sad to learn of the passing of Josh Baker. This is devastating news.

“We extend our best wishes to Josh’s family and friends, to everyone who knew and loved him, and to everyone at Worcestershire CCC.”

Baker, a left-arm spinner, made his first-class debut for Worcestershire in July 2021, having come through the academy at his local county.

He was twice capped by England at Under-19 level and was a travelling reserve for his country’s U19s World Cup squad in 2022.

The youngster was in action for his county’s second team the day prior to the club announcing his death, taking three wickets.

Baker was reportedly found dead in his flat by a friend after he didn’t show up for the third day of his team’s match against Somerset.

He played in two County Championship matches this season and he had featured in 20 first-class matches up until the end of last season, taking 39 wickets.

The talented cricketer also contributed two half-centuries with the bat.

Across all three formats, he took an impressive 70 wickets in his tragically short career and scored 525 runs.

Baker signed a three-year contract in 2023 and played five times as Worcestershire won promotion from County Championship Division Two.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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