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Preview: Gale backing Bess to bounce back in third Test

Photos: ECB
— 22 February 2021

Dom Bess will recover from the setback of being left out by England for the recent second Test against India, insists Andrew Gale.

Yorkshire’s coach is backing his new off-spinning recruit to prove why he was unfortunate to be omitted in Chennai after a run of 17 wickets in three matches this year – two in Sri Lanka and one in India.

Amidst a number of players being rested and rotated, Bess making way for Moeen Ali was very much described as a selection decision by the England hierarchy.

Now that Ali has returned home to rest ahead of the limited overs leg of the tour, 23-year-old Bess could return for Wednesday’s third Test in Ahmedabad, a pink ball day/night fixture (9am UK).

And if he does, Gale has every faith it will be a successful return.

“I think Bessy has done really well,” he said.

“Ok, he maybe hasn’t been as consistent as he would have liked – he’s had a bit of luck. But he’s picked up wickets.

“For a finger spinner to do that, he’s been incredibly unlucky to find himself out of the team given his contributions to the winning run they’ve been on. I thought they might have stuck with him.

“He’s 23, and spinners don’t often come into their prime until their late twenties and early thirties. We know he’s got a lot of work still to do.

“I’m sure it will have put a bit of a dent in his confidence. But knowing Bessy as I do, the character he is, he will bounce back.”

Gale continued: “I’ve had some interaction with him since the decision was made, and it was clear to me that given another opportunity, he will stick his chest out and show what he’s about.

“I’m sure it was pretty raw for him at the time because he had probably done enough to keep his place in the team.

“What people have got to remember is that he’s bowling against some of the best players of spin in the world in their own conditions.

“He’s got such a big future in front of him, and he will be fine.

“The key is that he learns from his disappointment and what he needs to improve on.

“Knowing Bessy as I do, he’ll work even harder to get it right second time around. Hopefully that comes in this Test.

“His strength of character was one of the reasons why we signed him. He will work even harder to get to where he wants to be.”

With him not being part of England’s limited overs plans, Bess will return home immediately after the fourth Test finishes on March 8.

It is almost certain he will then be available to start the county season with Yorkshire a month later following his winter move from Somerset.

“I’ll have a chat to him about that,” said Gale. “He’s moved up to Yorkshire now. His girlfriend is already up here. I would imagine he will want time to get settled in at the house.

“He’s been in a bubble for a long time, so he’ll have a bit of time to himself before he comes back into our programme.”

Jonny Bairstow is likely to return to England’s line-up this week, batting at number three.

He will be aiming to help Joe Root and co bounce back from a heavy 317-run defeat in the second Test, one which ended England’s run of six successive away Test victories and squared the series at 1-1.

“I think the first day will be really important,” said Gale, who has been mightily impressed by what he has seen from England in Sri Lanka and India this year.

“If they have another day where India win the toss, come out and are 350-3 at close, it will feel quite deflating.

“But if England can have a really solid day, they will feel like they’re back on the horse and back in business. It’s going to a huge day in the context of the series.

“I keep hearing that you’d have expected them to beat Sri Lanka. But it’s a very tough place to tour given the heat and the pitches.

“I think it was exceptional for them to win there in the fashion they did.

“You could see in that first Test against India that they had taken so much confidence from beating Sri Lanka and finding a way to play.

“Ultimately, Rooty has really lit it up with his form. I wouldn’t say he’s carried the team, but the contributions he’s made have been outstanding.

“The team will be getting a lot of confidence from the way Rooty is playing. When your leader performs the way he has done, it gives the other players a chance to grow with him.”

India, who hosted Bangladesh in a pink ball Test in late 2019, have already played a Test in such conditions this winter – against Australia in Adelaide when they were bowled out for 36 in the second innings of a defeat.

Gale has had experience of such conditions, coaching Yorkshire in the two County Championship draws, against Surrey at Emerald Headingley in 2017 and against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in 2018. Both were drab fixtures, the first being heavily rain-affected.

“I’m not quite sure on it all if I’m honest,” he added.

“It seems to have gone down well in Australia, for example. But places like that have warm evenings where you can sit out and have a beer.

“It was absolutely freezing when we had those Championship games in England, and it wasn’t great viewing at all.

“It was a miserable four days against Surrey at Headingley when it rained and rained, and that one down at Hampshire was played on a pitch with absolutely nothing in it. It just felt like we were dragging our days on longer than they needed to be.

“But I can see why they do it in other countries. It will definitely be an interesting spectacle this week.”

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