Ali Maiden believes a winter spell in Zimbabwe is the right approach for Dom Bess as he aims to realise his ambition of batting higher up the Yorkshire order.
All-rounder Bess is enjoying an extremely productive spell with the Southern Rocks team, where he has scored runs batting at number three in their four-day team.
The Devonian, 26, first travelled to Africa in November, returning home for Christmas before heading back out to sunnier climes.
Bess has enjoyed success with both bat and ball with the Rocks, for whom he has featured in both one-day and four-day cricket.
He is currently in four-day Logan Cup action as we speak, playing his third red ball game so far added to a pair of 50-over appearances. But the first two days of their clash with the Mountaineers in Harare have been washed out.
Previously, the off-spinning all-rounder has claimed four-day hauls of 5-99 and 4-8.
But it has been his returns with the bat which have been the most eye-catching and intriguing given he has posted red ball scores of 46, 63 and 56 – the latter two whilst batting at number three in the order.
“Dom has always had the ambition to bat higher, and he’s got lots of potential as a batter,” said assistant coach Maiden, who is currently overseeing winter training back at Headingley with Ottis Gibson away coaching at the ILT20 competition in the UAE.
“The next stage of his development is to be consistent with the bat, and he is showing signs of that.
“We’ve seen him do it in patches, and he knows he can do it – he’s got some big scores at various times throughout his career.
“That’s what his aim is, and we’ve had conversations and put things in place to help him do that. So going to Zimbabwe and batting higher up is brilliant and a fantastic opportunity for him.”
It was no secret that last summer was a difficult one for Bess, who found himself out of Yorkshire’s four-day team through June and July and went on short-term loans to both Warwickshire and Somerset.
But he returned to county duty impressively from August onwards.
He claimed a career best 5-37 in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup win over Essex at Chelmsford, going on to take 10 wickets in three LV= Insurance County Championship matches in September, including hauls of 4-79 and 3-55.
His recent form with the bat, including his Zimbabwean stint, has also been encouraging.
In his last 14 innings in all cricket, dating back to the MB50 win over Surrey at York in mid-August, Bess has only failed to reach 20 on three occasions, including seven scores of 40 or more.
Now, believes Maiden, Bess’s next step is to convert those scores into even more significant ones.
“If Dom is going to bat higher – that five, six, seven area – he has to be scoring hundreds,” he said. “Then you’re looking at around 700 runs for the year, which would be really good as an all-rounder.
“Off-spin is a tough skill, especially at Headingley.
“There will be times when you don’t get a bowl. The seamers have run through a team, there’s a right-hander in with a short boundary, the pitch – whatever it is.
“So if you can score big runs, hundreds, as an off-spinning all-rounder, it means the times when you don’t get a bowl you can still influence the match.
“He also has the ambition to be used more with the bat in T20 cricket.
“He did well in the one-day stuff last year and showed that when he got his opportunity he can find the boundary.
“He’s having a good winter and is enjoying it in Zimbabwe. To be playing cricket like that is the right thing for him.”