The New Kid On The Block: Is Bess The Answer To England’s Spin Mess?
The last time a 20-year old spinner made his debut for England, it sent a tizzy among a few fans of the subtle art of wrist spin as they wondered in awe, “Wow! Mason Crane can bowl a good googly at 20!”. However, with Crane nursing an injury, the selectors had zeroed in on Jack Leach as “the one going forward”, but now he’s out having injured his thumb.
So now who would don the floppy hat, field at cover and tweak a few before lunch? Surely not the tried-and-failed-over-the-winter Moeen Ali. His all-round skills are far from tempting….who can give England’s spin mess a glimmer of hope?
Enter Dominic Bess, a wily 20-year old Somerset spinner who bowls the less-fancied art of off spin.
Somerset have boasted a long line up of famous batsmen like Marcus Trescothick, bowlers like Ian Botham and Andy Caddick to name a few. Now they have an offie, who bats at number eight, because he “was always a little porker when younger, so I never took the long run-up. I just trotted in.”
He still doesn’t take the long run-up but he can turn the cherry square and who better to testify than Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott of Warwickshire, who Bess dismissed off successive deliveries en-route his 6-21 on Championship debut? He makes off spin look easy. Not overly threatening, but aggressive at times – just like his punchy character.
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It’s quite interesting that he’s been selected to play against Pakistan – the same side he made his Club debut against in 2016. Later, as his Instagram post suggested, he spent some time picking the brains of Younis Khan and gained some courage to give the ball some flight because tossing the ball up can and has surely ruffled feathers!
While Somerset’s spin friendly pitches gave him the much-needed game time a young spinner requires, it was also the company of fellow left-arm spinner Leach that encouraged him to try out different grips and experiment with his position at the crease.
It remains to be seen how he fares against a sub-continental side like Pakistan at the Home of Cricket next week. After all, it’s England in May. It usually swings more than it spins. Playing spin would be far from Pakistan’s list of worries as they address how to tackle the ball that nips back in, rather than the one that would spin back in. But Bess has a knack of reading the batsman’s mind and making him commit to a wrong shot or a hurried sweep.
Bess comes in off the back of a good show for the MCC, having scored 107 and picked 6-51 against Essex at Barbados. He already has seven fifers and a ten-wicket haul from 16 first class matches.
While Somerset will be happy that they invested in Bess at a young age, it will be interesting to see who rolls his arm over for them in their next fixture because a third spinner at Somerset is as rare as a specialist spinner at Durham these days. For now, they can praise themselves for stacking spinners in England’s bare cupboard.
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