Bess brothers set to make Devon cricket history?


- Credit: Archant

All three Bess brothers – Josh, Zak and Luke – are in Devon’s 12-man squad for the opening Minor Counties Championship game against Dorset at Sherborne School, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

If all three are in the final 11 on Sunday, it will be a notable first for Devon cricket.

Although there have been several sets of three brothers who have played for Devon, notably the Tolchards, never before have all played in the same Minor Counties match.

Josh, the county captain, is a 10-season veteran of the side and Zak has been around for a couple of years.

Luke Bess is the brother added to the 12 who has not played before.

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“Luke has been close to the side for a while because of the number of runs he has scored over the past couple of seasons in the Premier Division,” said Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket.

“Luke is probably unlucky not to have played before, but for one reason or another there has not been an opportunity.

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“Early season, three-day games always throw up one or two selection issues and when we were looking for batsmen Luke was an obvious choice.”

Whether all three Bess brothers play will depend on fitness issues. Zak has not bowled in anger all season due to a side strain, which has prevented him appearing in any of the one-day Unicorns Cup games. It would be tempting for Devon to play Zak as a batter – he did smash Cornwall for 166 not out in the final game last season – but that might leave the balance of the side a bowler light.

Donohue and the team management will have that decision to make on the morning of the match.

“It may be over the three days Zak will get closer to feeling able to bowl,” said Donohue.

Graham Bess, the father of the three brothers, said it would be a proud day for him if the all played.

He added: “It is a shame my late father Gerald is no longer with us to see it.”

Gerald Bess, who died aged 76 in 2007, played cricket for Sidmouth and passed his love for the game on to sons Graham and Russell.

Russell’s son Dom has played for Devon this season in one-day matches when not required by Somerset.

Somerset wanted Dom Bess for their last Specsavers County Championship game and he responded with three wickets in Hampshire’s first innings and seven more in the second for a career-best 10 wicket haul.

The only recorded instance of three brothers playing in the same game was before Devon joined the Minor Counties competition.

They were the Thorntons – Walter, Richard and Alfred – who played two games for Devon in August 1879.

Cricket was a different game in those days as two of the Thorntons – Albert and Richard – were underarm bowlers!

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