By Graham Hardcastle, Paul Dyson and Jonathan Doidge.
Dom Bess, halfway through a four-game loan spell, has settled in quickly at Yorkshire, but he admits it feels strange to be challenging his permanent employers towards the top of Division One.
The 21-year-old two-time England Test off-spinner was struggling for game time with Somerset and had to look further afield for first-team cricket.
And the White Rose were quick on the uptake, bringing him to Emerald Headingley for a quartet of Championship fixtures against Kent, Hampshire, Essex and Surrey.
So far, Bess has taken four wickets in two games, the win at Kent and last week’s draw against Hampshire at Headingley. Anthony McGrath’s Essex visit the same venue from Monday.
“It’s actually come out really nicely, and I’ve been really consistent,” said Bess, behind Jack Leach in the pecking order at Somerset. “For me, it’s different being the number one spinner. My role here has been more about control. If I can pick up a couple of wickets, great.
“The move has definitely come at the right time for me.
“I’ve been struggling for game time, so I was very fortunate that Yorkshire said ‘Yes’. The ballance of the side also gives me the opportunity to bat in that seven or eight role.”
“I think it’s been a really good move, and I’ve loved it so far.”
Bess is Jack Brooks’ new landlord in Taunton, but he only briefly sought his advice about the move: “You know the character he’s is, but as long as he keeps his room tidy I don’t mind!” he quipped. “He had only good things to say about Yorkshire.”
White Rose coach Andrew Gale describes Bess “as a perfect fit for us at this moment”.
“Josh (Poysden) has done well in one-day cricket, but for the balance of the team we need someone coming in at eight. Dom can. He also gives us control with the ball,” said Gale.
“I’ve been in touch with his agent for a while to see how things are going at Somerset because he wants to prove himself. He’s an England spinner and doesn’t want to be playing second-team cricket.”
Although seam has dominated Yorkshire’s last two matches, Bess was particularly impressive late on day four against Hampshire on Thursday as the hosts made a last gasp attempt for victory.
He returned 2-24 from 13 overs, including bowling Ian Holland through the gate with one which turned sharply out of the rough.
As things stand Bess is due to return to Taunton after Yorkshire’s clash with Surrey at Guildford through next week, but Gale does not hide from the fact that he would be keen to extend the deal – even make it permanent.
“I’d love to sign him, but we’ll just see,” he admitted.
Bess is understandably not thinking too much beyond the next fortnight.
“I’ve still got another year at Somerset after this, and a lot of things can happen quickly,” he added. “I’ll just see how it plays out.
“After these few games, Andy Hurry and Martyn Moxon (the two directors of cricket) will come together and discuss whether they want to extend it.
“My focus is to just do as well as I can for Yorkshire in this short time and keep pushing them right up to the top. I sounds quite strange for me to say, but we need to challenge (leaders) Somerset.”
While third-placed Yorkshire are unbeaten with two wins and two draws, Essex are fourth with two wins, a loss and a draw. The gap is four points between the two.
13-man squad to face Essex at Emerald Headingley
Yorks squad: Patterson c, Ballance, Bess, Brook, Coad, Fraine, Kohler-Cadmore, Leaning, Lyth, Olivier, Pillans, Tattersall w, Willey.
The thoughts of Graham Hardcastle…
The forecast may be a touch unsettled again this week, but we will avoid a repeat of last season’s opening week washout when a late winter deluge of rain rendered Headingley unplayable for a clash with the 2017 county champions.
Now, Yorkshire sit third and Essex fourth after four games of 2019, with the gap between the two four points.
Essex beat Kent at Chelmsford last week as Sir Alastair Cook fell 10 runs short of posting two centuries in a first-class match for the first time in his career. South African off-spinner Simon Harmer then claimed eight wickets on the final day. Yorkshire will have to be wary of their capabilities, as they will Australian overseas seamer Peter Siddle.
While there is loads of time left in the season, a win for either side will really give them a leg up and boost confidence that they can challenge Hampshire and Somerset at the top of Division One.
Duanne Olivier and Ben Coad versus Sir Alastair is the standout individual battle I’m most looking forward to watching.
But, aside from that, it has all the makings of another interesting week.
Let’s hope for similar fireworks to those we saw at Chelmsford last May when Yorkshire were bowled out for 50 in the first innings and recovered to win.
The thoughts of Jonathan Doidge…
Sadly, the weather spoiled what could well have been a third championship win in four outings for Yorkshire last week. Andrew Gale’s men again failed to fully fire at the outset, but worked themselves back into contention and finished the game in the ascendancy. If they can get day one right a bit more often, then there is plenty to be optimistic about as we move forward.
Gale’s one-time Yorkshire team mate is back in town this week as coach Anthony McGrath will attempt to mastermind a win for Essex at his former stomping ground. That he can call upon the services of the great Sir Alastair Cook, who arrives in tip-top form, is undoubtedly a major boost to the visitors. Champions two years ago, the boys from Chelmsford are collectively a class act, with the likes of Aussie Test bowler Peter Siddle also among their number, and it seems imperative that the Tykes get off to a better start this time.
If aerial conditions are like last week, then batting will not be easy, despite the excellent quality of the pitch, and patience will be a key asset for batsmen. Hopefully, the weather will play a less significant role and good cricket a greater one, as we prepare for another mouthwatering championship clash.
As ever, you will be able to hear the full ball-by-ball call with me via the BBC sport app and website.
Yorkshire’s County Championship Statisitcs
- Essex have beaten Yorkshire only twice at Headingley in the County Championship – in 1960 and 1984.
- In 2017 Essex did the double over Yorkshire. The only other previous season when this happened was in 1897.
- The 2018 match would have been the first time the two counties had met in a Division One match at Headingley but as it was abandoned without a ball being bowled that honour now goes to 2019’s game.
- Yorkshire’s last win over Essex at Headingley was in 2004.
- In 2005 Essex scored 622 for eight declared at Headingley. Yorkshire’s highest total against Essex is 555 for one declared at Leyton in 1932 and they have passed 500 on five other occasions against these opponents but never at Headingley.
- Essex is one of only two counties, Somerset being the other, who have scored 600 against Yorkshire without their opponents ever reaching 600 in reply.
Specsavers County Championship Division One table
Specsavers County Championship Division One statistics
Potential batting milestones in Yorkshire v Essex on 3rd Jun 2019
- RN ten Doeschate needs 11 runs to reach 10500 runs in First-class matches
- PM Siddle needs 12 runs to reach 3000 runs in First-class matches
- TT Bresnan needs 21 runs to reach 6500 runs in First-class matches
- AU Rashid needs 33 runs to reach 2000 runs in First-class matches at Leeds
- RS Bopara needs 37 runs to reach 500 runs in First-class matches against Yorkshire
- A Lyth needs 86 runs to reach 500 runs in First-class matches against Essex
- T Kohler-Cadmore needs 102 runs to reach 500 runs in First-class matches at Leeds
- A Lyth needs 106 runs to reach 3500 runs in First-class matches at Leeds
- JA Leaning needs 117 runs to reach 3000 runs in First-class matches
- TT Bresnan needs 122 runs to reach 2000 runs in First-class matches at Leeds
- BO Coad needs 141 runs to reach 500 runs in First-class matches
- JA Porter needs 147 runs to reach 500 runs in First-class matches
- T Westley needs 147 runs to reach 9500 runs in First-class matches
- JM Bairstow needs 148 runs to reach 11500 runs in First-class matches
Potential bowling milestones in Yorkshire v Essex on 3rd Jun 2019
- MT Coles needs 1 wickets to reach 350 wickets in First-class matches
- TT Bresnan needs 2 wickets to reach 550 wickets in First-class matches
- AU Rashid needs 8 wickets to reach 150 wickets in First-class matches at Leeds
- JE Root needs 10 wickets to reach 50 wickets in First-class matches
- JA Porter needs 10 wickets to reach 300 wickets in First-class matches
- Head coach: Anthony McGrath
- Captain: Ryan ten Doeschate
- 2018: CC 3rd in Div 1, RL50 QF, T20 7th in South
County champions of 2017, Essex made a solid if not spectacular defence of their crown last summer and were in a fairly unique position in Division One – they didn’t challenge top dogs Surrey but were never in relegation danger.
Essex were actually the only side to beat Surrey in Championship cricket, ending their hopes of an unbeaten season during the final round at the Oval.
Sir Alastair Cook is a notable returnee to county cricket full time, while Peter Siddle has signed a two-year overseas deal at Chelmsford. Fellow Aussie Adam Zampa, the leg-spinner, has re-signed for T20.
Essex were beaten twice at home by Yorkshire last year; in the Championship and the RL50 quarter-finals.
Batsman Dan Lawrence has all the ability to be a star of the future.
Last time out – 16/04/2018
Match abandoned without a ball being bowled
Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale was at least able to look on the bright side as he spoke about the prospects of play for this coming Friday’s clash with Nottinghamshire at Emerald Headingley.
Gale was speaking shortly after the abandonment of the opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Essex.
Not a ball was bowled owing to a wet outfield.
But Gale insisted it will be fine come the visit of Peter Moores and his men.
“We should be fine because the forecast is good,” he said.
“Someone told me it’s going to be warmer than Ibiza this week!
“That’s the sort of weather we need to dry the ground off. If that comes, we’ll be fine.
“I am confident it will go ahead.
“The outfield has got better, but only slowly. We just haven’t had any drying weather. This is the first time the sun’s been out, it’s been above 10 degrees and there’s been a bit of wind.
“That rain last night set us back. If it hadn’t rained last night, I reckon we would have played some cricket.”
This is the first time a four-day match as ever been abandoned without a ball bowled at Headingley, although there was a three-day Championship game against Leicestershire in 1967 that went the same way.
Ironically, in 1985, Yorkshire and Essex were abandoned at Sheffield’s Abbeydale Park. Essex were defending champions that year too.
In 1987 and 1992, Yorkshire were involved in three-day abandonments at Hastings and Oxford University.
For this match, both teams have had to settle for a five-point draw.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating,” continued Gale.
“Since we got back from South Africa (March 20), we’ve hardly had any time outside, never mind game time.
“But I’ve just said to the boys ‘There’s no need to panic’. They’re all in a good place mentally, they’ve worked hard in the indoor nets. We just need a bit of time in the middle now and we’ll be off and running.”
“Had we known what the weather was like, we could have gone (to South Africa) a bit later. We decided to come back earlier this year in order to get used to English conditions. Best made plans and all that.
“The ground is incredibly wet. You look at it from the edge and think it looks fit. But to get on it, it’s still splashing around.
“The builders have said at the bottom end that their building site is flooded from the water that’s drained off the ground. They are having to pump water out.
“It just shows the amount of water we’ve had over the last month.”
Essex were frustrated that, despite minimal rain fall during the four days, there was little work done on the problem areas of the ground.
But that was because Andy Fogarty and his ground staff were concerned that, with the water table so high, any heavy machinery would only bring more water to the surface.
Find out all you need to know ahead of the Specsavers County Championship fixture against Essex at Emerald Headingley.
Ways to follow
- Ball-by-ball BBC Radio Commentary…
- Via the club’s match centre below, including live stream…
Monday will be quite breezy with sunny intervals together with the chance of a few showers, particularly in the afternoon. Monday night could see a few further showers. Tuesday will then be an unsettled day with showery outbreaks of rain and a chance of thunder but perhaps a few brighter interludes. Wednesday will continue to see a mixture of sunny spells and showers.