As far as Somerset are concerned, Dom Bess has turned from poacher to gamekeeper. But he is just a touch concerned that if he throws a fatal spanner in their LV= Insurance County Championship title works, “Tres could hunt me down!”
Yorkshire’s off-spinning all-rounder is, of course, referring to Somerset legend Marcus Trescothick, the opener who retired at the end of 2019 after years of shedding blood, sweat and tears trying to win his beloved county their first Championship crown.
More recently, England’s Bess was helping him out.
Since making his first-class debut midway through 2016, Somerset have finished second in the Championship every year but one (2017).
They were also beaten Bob Willis Trophy finalists last year.
Now, the affable 24-year-old has the same goal but just in a different jersey – that of Yorkshire, whom he joined ahead of this season on a four-year contract.
And tomorrow marks his first appearance against his former county, with the two meeting at Scarborough (10.30am).
“100 percent,” he said when asked whether he always dreamt of winning the Championship with Somerset as a youngster growing up. “But now I’m trying to stop them.
“That’s just part and parcel of the professional game.
“When I was at Somerset, we did get really close to winning it. It just wasn’t meant to be.
“If I could put a performance in and go a way to stopping them, it would personally be really pleasing.”
He continued: “It will be weird, it’s going to be strange. But I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve text a couple of the boys already to make sure they are getting prepared because they are going to get a barrage!
“Some of my best mates are playing, and I’ve grown up with them – Ben Green, Tom Lammonby. And George Bartlett and Tom Abell are two of my best mates as well. All four of them are, really.
“Also, playing against Jack Leach, which I haven’t ever done before, is going to be interesting. I won’t be wanting to get out to him, that’s for sure.
“You have to professional about it. But if I get one of them out, they won’t be hearing the end of it.”
All of this is said with a cheeky smile on the Devonian’s face.
And that smile is brilliant to see after previous challenges.
Bess has spoken at length about the difficulties experienced during the latter stages of the winter when he was left out by England at stages during their Test series in India.
Prior to that, he was far from a regular in Somerset’s first team given the presence of the aforementioned left-arm spinner Jack Leach in their squad. The yearning for regular cricket was why he opted to up sticks to Headingley.
Mind you, Leach has also had his recent challenges. In and out of England’s Test team as well, he has to contend with suffering from Chron’s disease. In late 2019, a bout of sepsis during an England winter tour of New Zealand left him fearing for his life.
“We’re certainly at the stage of our career where we’re both pushing to play for England,” said Bess, who has taken an impressive 26 wickets and scored 364 runs with two fifties in 11 Championship matches this season.
“The situation as it is, it’s really good that we’re both back playing. That’s the biggest struggle, not playing.”
The Bess v Somerset provides a fascinating sub-plot to what is a fixture both sides could do with winning.
Neither side won the opening fixture of the four-game Division One, leaving them with work to do to overhaul leaders Warwickshire (33 points) at the top.
Somerset are fourth out of six teams with 20.5 points after suffering an innings defeat inside three days at home to Nottinghamshire earlier this week.
For Yorkshire, they sit bottom of the table with 16.5 having been forced to settle for a draw against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl. Hampshire, who finished 177-9, batted out the final 7.4 overs with one wicket remaining to deny the White Rose a deserved win.
Yorkshire started the four-game campaign targeting three wins to have any chance of finishing top to win the Championship.
A consolation prize would be second place for a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final. Even to qualify for that, they could do with getting a win on the board quick sharp.
Fingers crossed that comes in their first Championship match at North Marine Road since the summer of 2019.
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Dawid Malan are unavailable due to their commitments with England in the series against India.
13-man squad to face Somerset
Harry Duke (Wicketkeeper)
Steve Patterson (Captain)
A look at the opposition – SOMERSET
Coach: Jason Kerr
Captain: Tom Abell
Last Year’s Performance: Runner-up
2020 Leading Runscorer: Tom Lammonby (459
*2020 Leading Wicket Taker:* Craig Overton (30
Overseas players: Marchant de Lange (South Africa – full season)
Key man: Tom Abell has grown into a confident leader and added an impressive haul of runs to his captaincy last season, proving leadership is not a distraction to his own development.
Flies under the radar: Despite over 13,000 first-class runs, Steven Davies doesn’t attract as many headlines as the younger talent but his experience and ability remain a keystone of the dressing room.
Best Player Under 24: Tom Lammonby made an incredible start to his career with three centuries in six innings and the 20-year-old appears to have a big future.
The Season Ahead: We ask again – “will this be Somerset’s season?” Despite coming so close to that elusive pennant in the past five years, Somerset have found other counties producing a more complete campaign.
They win a lot of tight matches – a good habit – but some that go the other way have been costly and they need to find more runs to control more matches.
That could be tricky if pitches at Taunton continue to be dominated by bowlers, either spin or, last season, seam. The emergence of Tom Lammonby, and Tom Abell’s form last year, will certainly help.
• This is Somerset’s 11th visit to Scarborough to play in the Championship; each county has won three of the previous ten matches.
• Somerset is one of only two counties, Essex being the other, who have scored over 600 runs in an innings against Yorkshire without the White Rose county ever having done so in return. Somerset’s record is 630 at Headingley in 1901. Yorkshire’s highest is 589 for five at Bath in 2001.
• Yorkshire have dismissed Somerset for fewer than 50 on five occasions, the lowest being 35 at Bath in 1898, but their own lowest total in these matches is 73 at Headingley in 1895.
• Somerset’s highest partnership against Yorkshire is 346 and this record was set 127 years ago. Yorkshire’s highest stand against Somerset is 288 made in 1979.
• For Yorkshire three players have scored a century and taken five wickets in an innings in the same match in games between these two sides. They are George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes and Brian Close (twice). No Somerset player has yet achieved the feat against Yorkshire.
HOW TO FOLLOW
You can keep up to date with proceedings via the live stream that will be available on yorkshireccc.com. There will also be a match blog on the website, and the clips available via the match centre. Highlights will also be available shortly following each days play.