Dom Bess says Yorkshire are a completely different side in the Vitality Blast this season to how they were when he was on loan with the county in 2019.
Off-spinner Bess has contributed to the Vikings’ excellent start to the ongoing North Group campaign, with them winning four of their first six games to top the table.
Bess has claimed five wickets in two games following England Test duty against Worcestershire at New Road last Wednesday (2-30) and Derbyshire at Emerald Headingley on Sunday (3-21).
The first was an equal career best and the second standalone career best figures. More importantly, both were victories.
Yorkshire are back in action tomorrow when they face Worcestershire at Emerald Headingley (6.30pm) in their seventh match, marking the halfway point in the group.
Another win would ensure the Vikings take a significant step towards a top four finish in the group for a quarter-final place.
Their performances so far are in stark contrast to previous seasons when they have always struggled for momentum. For, example, quarter-final qualification this summer would be their first since 2016.
Bess got a brief snapshot of that frustration when on loan from Somerset in 2019, with the Vikings only winning one of his six games.
“I have certainly seen a difference to now from when I came in two years ago,” he said. “You can see lads going through the gears.
“Someone like Harry Brook is striking it beautifully. Jordan Thompson with the bat at the end on Sunday, Matthew Waite striking it from ball one.
“People have got confidence, and that is so, so important.
“Even when games are tricky, we’re finding a way.
“The really important thing now is rolling this momentum.
“I know Derby had a couple of injuries, so Worcester will be a bit stronger.
“They’re not going to have Moeen Ali, but they are still a quality side.
“But I just like the way we’re playing our cricket.”
Tomorrow is set to be only the 11th T20 game of Bess’s career compared to 59 first-class appearances, including 14 Test Matches for England.
Despite that lack of first-team T20 experience, he has played 24 second-team games for Somerset and Yorkshire, helping to forge a confidence in his short form game plan.
“I know my strengths,” he said. “I’ve bowled in the power play. But when you’ve got Joe Root, he can do that job and allow me to bowl four overs in the middle.
“I’d like to think I’m quite an intelligent cricketer who reads the game. I do my homework. That’s really important.
“But, with T20 cricket, you have to take it with a pinch of salt.
“With how the game goes, there’s a lot of luck with it.
“I always think about calculated risk – where do I want people hitting me? I think with that side of things, I’m quite intelligent.
“When I’m out there, I’m trying to put it in my favour. Some days, it won’t go in your favour. Sunday was my day.”
Bess has had a very productive first full season as a Yorkshire player.
Prior to T20, he claimed 14 wickets in eight Championship games, including match-clinching hauls of 6-53 and 4-51 in both meetings with Sussex.
“The thing that screams out to me is the opportunity I’ve been given,” he added. “That’s all I wanted at Somerset, and it didn’t happen much.
“At times, I felt a little bit stuck and I couldn’t express myself.
“Up here, I’m obviously the first spinner in the red ball stuff, and I’m playing in the T20 now.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted, the chance to play, because I’m a fairly confident person and do back myself.”
Worcestershire, champions in 2018, have won two of five games so far and go in search of win number three when they face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge this evening.
As Bess says, they will be without key all-rounder Moeen Ali because of England duty.
Yorkshire won by 94 runs at New Roadlast Wednesday on the back of a scintillating century from Jonny Bairstow.
Jonny Tattersall returns to the squad having had a successful loan spell with Gloucestershire earlier in the month, scoring two First-Class fifties in two games.
14-man squad to take on Worcestershire Rapids
Joe Root (Captain)
A look at the opposition – Worcestershire Rapids
Coach: Alex Gidman
Captain: Moeen Ali (stand-in captain when unavailable to be confirmed)
Last Year’s Performance: Bottom (Central Group)
2020 Leading Run Scorer: Hamish Rutherford (352, 39.11)
2020 Leading Wicket Taker: Ed Barnard (10, 26.00)
Overseas players: Ben Dwarshuis (Australia – whole tournament), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal – whole tournament)
Key man: Ben Dwarshuis – Leading wicket-taker for winners Sydney Sixers in the latest edition of the Big Bash and will add much needed variety to Rapids attack as a left-armer.
Flies under the radar: Ross Whiteley – By his standards had a couple of quiet T20 years but his big-hitting can destroy any attack and needs to impress in final year of current contract.
Best Player Under 24: Sandeep Lamichhane – Still only 20 but has plenty of experience from many T20 franchises and his leg spin will be unknown commodity in this country.
Blast expectations: The Rapids won the competition in 2018 and were runners-up in 2019 and there is a determination to ensure last season’s below-woeful performance was a mere blip. The absence of Moeen Al and Wayne Parnell plus an under-cooked Pat Brown, after being a non-playing member in the England bubble, meant their attack was weakened and their batsmen also failed to deliver.
The expected availability of Rapids captain Moeen for part of the tournament will be a massive boost in both skill sets and he is capable of taking any attack apart at the top of the order. Overseas signings Ben Dwarshuis and Sandeep Lamichane will add T20 experience and variety to an attack that was often cannon fodder last summer.
Expect Riki Wessels to rediscover his hitting skills as he looks to repeat his 2019 form when setting a new Rapids record for most Blast runs in a season – 461. It will be a disappointment if the Rapids do not at least qualify from their group for the knockout stages.
The Key Statistics
• Of the regular members of the Northern Group, Yorkshire have played fewer games against Worcestershire (ten) than any other county (Northamptonshire 13).
• Three of Yorkshire’s 11 highest T20 totals have been scored against Worcestershire and all have been at Headingley, the highest being 233 for six in 2017. Worcestershire’s highest total at the ground is 196 for seven, also in 2017.
• Yorkshire’s David Willey scored 118 against Worcestershire at Headingley in 2017 but no one from their opponents has ever made a century in this series, home or away.
• Yorkshire’s best bowling analysis at Headingley against Worcestershire is four for 21 by Richard Pyrah in 2011 but no Worcestershire bowler has ever taken more than three wickets in an innings at Headingley, the best being three for 29 by Brett D’Oliviera in 2015.
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 after the game.