Dom Bess will not be fazed as he makes his England Test debut at Lords
- Credit: Archant
Dom Bess is confident the occasion won’t get the better of him when he makes his debut for England in the first Test against Pakistan which begins at Lords on Thursday (May 24), writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
Off-spinner Bess, who spent three years with Exeter after leaving Sidmouth, was a late replacement for Somerset colleague Jack Leach in the 12-man squad for England’s opening Test of the summer.
As Test debuts go, the stage doesn’t come any bigger than making yours at Lord’s, the west London home of cricket for more than 200 years.
Bess said that, if selected, there would be something wrong if you were not apprehensive about winning your first England cap in a Lord’s Test.
But he is confident of keeping the butterflies in the tummy fully under control.
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“It is a big occasion in front of a big crowd, but when you strip it down it is just another game of cricket,” said Bess.
“You want to enjoy the occasion, but you are there to do a job and that’s what I intend to do.
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“My aim is to keep doing what I have been doing for the past couple of seasons, which earned me a place in the squad.”
Bess, a former Blundell’s schoolboy, has risen through the professional cricketing ranks like a cork out of a bottle over the past three seasons.
Three years ago he was a fringe player in Somerset’s 2nd XI, two years ago he broke into the First Class side towards the end of the summer and last season he became a regular.
The 20-year-old from Sidmouth has only played 16 First Class games and two of them were not for Somerset.
His stats include a game for England Lions in the West Indies and, more significantly, a man-of-the-match performance for MCC against Essex in Barbados in March in the annual game against the champion county from the previous season.
Bess, batting at number nine, scored his maiden First-Class hundred AND took six wickets for 51 runs when Essex batted a second time. He had eight for 108 in the match.
His Somerset stats prove Bess can bowl – 37 wickets all in the early 20s – and his knock in Bridgetown underlined his potential as a genuine all-rounder.
Bess said he had worked hard to improve as a batsman and his primary motivation was to hold down a place in the Somerset side.
“When you are competing with Jack Leach, who has already played for England, for one spinners’ place in the team you need to offer as much as you can,” said Bess.
“Cricket is a three-dimensional game these days and you need to be a good fielder and capable of building an innings.”
Bess has come a long way from his early experiences of back garden cricket with his late-grandfather Gerald.
“He used to bowl spin at me and could be quite tricky go face,” said Bess.
The Bess family has been a Sidmouth sporting dynasty for more than half a century, starting with granddad Gerald, who played soccer for Sidmouth Town and cricket for Sidmouth CC.
Sons Russell (Dom’s dad), Graham and Greg were all cricketers and played rugby to county standard or higher with Exeter or Bath.
Graham’s three sons are Josh, Luke and Zac. Josh is Devon CCC captain, Luke is Sidmouth skipper and Zac is an all-rounder in the Devon team. All three play rugby for Sidmouth and Josh has played for Devon in that discipline too.
Test players only get four guest tickets for a match – and Dom has been oversubscribed with requests.
Mum, Dad and Grandma Maureen get a ticket, along with Dom’s girlfriend.
“All my cousins have got tickets and so have many of my friends,” said Dom.
“It feels like half of Sidmouth will be there to support me if I play. If granddad is watching too, I hope to do them all proud.”