At the beginning of the year we heard the very sad news that John Baker had passed away. John was always one of the first people to make any new members welcome at the club. When I first joined the club I hadn’t learned to drive and he would always offer me a lift home at the end of the evening. It was only when I started driving and started to reciprocate the offer did I realise that he was taking a detour of several miles every Saturday to get me home!
I don’t think I can put it any better than one of members, Tim, who said “John was a great soul, a kind heart and a determined sportsman, always a pleasure to play alongside him and he will be sadly missed.”
He was a valued friend and teammate that epitomised why you want to be part of the club. Always interested in how you and the team was doing.
A member for over 20 years, he played an integral role in helping the club develop its strength on the senior playing side by starting and captaining the 3rd XI and helping get sides out week in, week out when numbers were low. Initially they played friendlies and the team then joined the Thames Valley Cricket League.
Being the skipper in the lowest team, as it was at that time, can be a thankless task and he put in many hours calling and cajoling players so that we always got a side out in the Thames Valley Cricket League – and without that we would not be in the position where a decade later we can now put out 4 teams consistently including playing a major part in the early stages of our 4th XI.
He had a great cricket brain, and read the wicket at our second ground, Lock’s Ride, better than anyone else and told me in one of my first 3rd XI matches which end I had to bowl at – and of course he was absolutely right.
John was a very good all-round cricketer – whether it be opening the batting, playing the anchor role in the middle / late order or his great variation of slow bowling. When batting with John, I always looked forward to him bringing out his reverse sweep much to the consternation of the opposition.
He holds the record for the best bowling figures for the 3rd XI with 8 for 28 against Theale & Tilehurst 3s and represented the Berkshire Over 50s and 60s XIs.
Our thoughts go out to Mary, David, Gareth and the rest of his family. John had time for everybody, he was kind, considerate and a true gentleman. He was a giver in life, and never wanted anything in return. He will be sorely missed and he’ll be in our thoughts this season.