Dom Bess is the new face in England Test team….

Earlier this year, a 20-year-old bowler was not sure if he would last in Somerset for the entire season. At the beginning of the County Championship this season, there was no need for Somerset to have two full-time spinners in the squad and the one slot of the spinner was sealed by Jack Leech.

However, with Leech’s unfortunate thumb injury during a net session, Dominic Mark Bess suddenly had become a precious entity of Somerset. On Thursday, if the weather forecast permits, Bess will become a Test cricketer, even before his 21st birthday, with just 16 First-Class matches under his belt. Leech being a close friend of Bess, the latter suggested how gutted he was for Leech but at the same time, he was very excited about his Test debut. “It would be an amazing achievement and it would be great for Somerset, Devon Cricket, Sidmouth and Exeter Cricket who have always helped me. I’m smiling now just thinking about it. I’m absolutely gutted for Leachy because we’re obviously really close,” Bess said.

In the absence of Leech, England selectors wanted to invest in a young spinner and Bess was their first choice without any second thoughts.

When Bess took his first steps into cricket, he was no prodigy and he thought he needed to keep moving clubs in order to progress. Born and brought up in a seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon, a 16-year-old Bess decided to move to Exeter CC on the instance of Charlie Gabbitass, Bess’s cricket coach at Blundell’s School in Tiverton. He made the move because he was guaranteed more bowling at Exeter CC. He then signed a scholarship contract with Somerset and had a few stints with Somerset’s second XI as well that season, taking regular wickets and hitting two centuries.

Bess broke into the First-Class scene when he played against Pakistan in 2016. His First-Class debut was nothing close to being memorable, courtesy of figures of 128 for 0 but then he bounced back with figures of 6 for 28 in his Country Championship debut against Warwickshire. In 2016, Somerset had a shot at the County Championship title and Bess came out of nowhere to grab 13 wickets in two matches before Middlesex ended Somerset’s chances. Although Somerset did not manage to win the title, Bess’ first appearance in the domestic circuit will be cherished for a very long time.

The spinning ball dismissed England’s finest batsmen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell in successive deliveries as Bess finished with figures of 6 for 28 in the first innings and also marked the best figures by a Somerset debutant for 55 years. Bess went on to add two more wickets in the second innings before Somerset by 31 runs at Taunton.

In the following season of 2017, Bess took 36 wickets at 23.42 in 2017. Those performances instantly knocked at the selectors’ door. Bess was called up for the net preparations for the West Indies home series in 2017. His growth rapidly was witnessed last season when he clinched a seven-for against Hampshire, a five-wicket haul against Yorkshire and then a fifth five-for in the space of 13 innings – the match was against Surrey where Bess also struck his maiden First-Class fifty.

Bess has the ability to spin the ball amazingly, he has big hands that can be wrapped properly around the ball and his rugby in his earlier days still comes handy helping him to bowl at different paces without changing his action. This explains his achievement at such a short span of time: Bess already has 63 wickets 22.49 apiece from 16 First-Class matches since his Somerset debut in 2016. Paul Farbrace, England’s assistant coach recently suggested that it was not Bess’ bowling or batting that impressed him last year but it was Bess’ character of moulding himself according to whatever the demands were from the team.

Bess does not like to sit at one place; he goes around the field or fiddles with the bat or when in a match, he goes hunting for the wickets. He has never played at the Lord’s. Although he was in Somerset’s squad that visited Lord’s last year when he ended up warming the bench. It was his first trip to the capital and when he goes this time, Bess will want to leave his mark at the Mecca of Cricket.

One of the most important qualities in Bess that got his maiden Test call was his abilities of being an all-rounder. He recently registered his maiden First-Class century in the County Championship earlier this year. He is an absolute raw talent but England would want to believe he has the qualities of being an asset to them in the future. The 20-year-old so far has played the majority of his matches on relatively spin-friendly Taunton wicket. It will be interesting to watch how Bess adjusts his game to conditions which aren’t very spin friendly and do not offer a lot of turn. If he is fairly a new face at the Lord’s, he certainly will have several well-wishers in the West Country hoping the good for him on Thursday.

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