Rod Stewart released an album entitled Blondes Have More Fun in the late 1970s. If today is anything to go by, Dom Bess may well have listened to it, the Yorkshire all-rounder hitting a superb unbeaten 113 against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at Headingley.
Bess has come back from a winter in Sydney with a new-look game; modifications and improvements have been made both with the ball and the bat.
But he has also returned with a striking new hair-do – an impressive blonde number.
Even more impressive, however, was his batting as he navigated Yorkshire out of choppy waters against a student attack who caused significant early problems in helpful conditions. From 94-5 shortly after lunch, Yorkshire were able to declare after tea on 323-7.
If Bess strengthened the Rod Stewart theory, Ben Coad then tested it by returning stunning figures of 5-12 from five overs as the students slipped into major trouble in reply at 17-5 from nine overs. Bad light ended play 20 minutes early.
Alongside Bess, who hit 10 fours and six sixes in 112 balls, Ben Mike impressed greatly with 72 not out off 55 balls. He hit seven fours and four sixes.
After electing to bat, Yorkshire, fielding 13 players in this friendly, including Matthew Fisher, were undone as swing and seam were evident.
New ball seamer Sam Ellis (4-63 from 17 overs) claimed three of the first five wickets, including James Wharton and George Hill without scoring. Fellow seamer Kurtis Watson also bowled Adam Lyth with a beauty for 30.
Bess’s new barnet was only on show when he raised his bat after tea, largely hidden away under his helmet as he counter-attacked with great confidence.
Four of his sixes were pulled against seam and spin.
He shared 84 for the seventh wicket through the afternoon with Jordan Thompson, who himself cleared the boundary rope three times in a run-a-ball 26.
Either side of tea, Bess and Mike added an unbroken 118 inside 17 overs to take Yorkshire beyond 300 as the students wavered.
Mike was even more aggressive than Bess. Three of his four sixes were down the ground off the left-arm spin of Joe Pocklington, who he also pulled over mid-wicket.
A smattering of spectators watched on as play took place under grey skies for the majority of the day, with the floodlights even employed through the middle of the day.
Those who stayed on deep into the evening would have seen a new ball masterclass from Coad, who at one stage was on a hat-trick and won two lbw shouts and benefitted from two slip catches.
One of those slip catches accounted for the wicket of Yorkshire team-mate Harry Duke, who was caught at first by George Hill for two. Duke, a student in Leeds, has been given permission to play for the visitors this weekend. He did not keep wicket today, though.
Duke’s was the first of the two wickets in two balls, with wicketkeeper Tom Keast trapped lbw for a golden duck as the score slipped to 12-4 in the seventh over.