Dom Bess had a sizeable task on his hands during the winter when bowling to the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and co. Now, he has another to occupy his time – performing as Yorkshire’s number one spinner.
Bess made a quietly impressive debut as a full-time White Rose player in the weekend LV= Insurance County Championship draw against Glamorgan at Emerald Headingley, going wicketless but controlling the run-rate and scoring a crucial 38 not out to help save the follow-on.
The 23-year-old off-spinning all-rounder was the county’s marquee signing ahead of 2021, joining from Somerset on a four-year contract.
“I’ve been backed by Yorkshire – Steve Patterson, Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon – in terms of coming up here. It’s now up to me to deliver,” he said.
“Whatever that looks like day in and day out, and in and around the club, is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Bess will readily admit his winter away with England’s Test squad in Sri Lanka and India wasn’t plain sailing by any means, despite taking 17 wickets in four matches.
He was left out of the second and third Tests in India amidst suggestions he wasn’t bowling at his best, and there was the mental aspect of dealing with that disappointment whilst isolated from friends and family amidst bubble life.
But you won’t hear him complaining. He is one heck of a tough cookie with a glass half approach.
“I can only see massive positives from this winter,” he said.
“If I lay down the facts now, as a 23-year-old going to the sub-continent, having expectations on you and on yourself, I perhaps didn’t impact games the way I would want to at times. But I did impact upon games for England.”
Bess claimed eight wickets in England’s opening winter Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, including a 5-30. Four more wickets followed in the second Test before five in the memorable series opening win over India in Chennai. After that, he was left out for the second and third Tests before returning for the fourth.
But we return to that positive outlook.
“I’m 23 and was sat there watching and playing against Ashwin, who is 33 or 34 playing in his own conditions. I was visually seeing how he goes about it,” he explained.
“It was a pleasure to be there and learn.”
Bess has spoken honestly to Test captain and new county colleague Joe Root about his omission in India, as he has to coach Chris Silverwood.
“I understand where I stand with it all,” he explained.
“I certainly feel backed from these guys, who gave me good feedback in terms of what I need to do. That’s all I can ask for, that consistent feedback.
“I know Rooty, Spoons (Silverwood) and the whole team back me in terms of the longer process. I have to buy into that.”
After a full summer of playing in Tests against the West Indies and Pakistan in 2020, Bess left for the sub-continent in January as England’s first choice spinner.
Who knows, he may have returned home a bit further down the pecking order ahead of the forthcoming home summer. If so, though, he won’t be getting too down about it.
“Of course I want to be involved in the English summer,” he continued. “The New Zealand Test series (starting in June) is in the back of my head, but I’m very realistic.
“Jack Leach had a fantastic tour. If I’m not in and around the team, it’s not that it’s fine, but I can think of the longer picture.”
On life in England’s hotel bubble, he said: “In Ahmedabad, we weren’t even allowed out of the hotel. There wasn’t really any space outside within the hotel to get away from cricket.
“It was cricket, cricket, cricket, which was mentally draining.
“But that was a great experience to learn how to cope with that and understand it’s ok to struggle in that environment as well.
“It was a great achievement to be there, and there was so much to take away from being a part of winning that first game in Chennai.”