Dom Bess says losing his England spot on Test tour of India was ‘tough mentally’
Dom Bess admits he struggled to cope with being dropped by England during their tour of India but is treating the experience as a stepping stone to a long and successful Test career.
Bess started 2021 as a key member of a winning England side, taking 12 wickets in the 2-0 series victory in Sri Lanka and five more as Joe Root’s men sprung a major upset by beating India in the first Test in Chennai.
Bess outfoxed India captain Virat Kohli in the first innings, but his fortunes shifted quickly and he struggled in the second, bowling a handful of errant full tosses that saw him lose his place in the side for the second Test as Moeen Ali returned.
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Bess was kept on the bench for the day/night third Test in Ahmedabad – a two-day debacle for England, who flooded their team with seam options on a spinner’s delight – and he then drew a blank when he was recalled for the final game of the series.
“To get removed from the side was tough and it was more tough mentally,” Bess said. “I did struggle with that side of it.
“I was really disappointed, but Rooty and Spoons [head coach Chris Silverwood] have both said how tough it was to drop me out of that second Test. To be honest, I thought I was going to play in the third but, with the pink ball, they thought it was going to swing a bit more.
“It was one of the tougher times I’ve had, but those sort of situations are going to happen again and, I think, as a player it’s about keeping your emotions as consistent as you can. That’s gone now and there’s no point in banging on about it, it’s done.
“Perhaps I didn’t impact games the way I would want to at times, but I did impact upon games for England. Looking back, I can only see massive positives; it was a real pleasure to be there and learn.
“I’ve spoken to Spoons and [performance director] Mo Bobat and I certainly got across how I felt and how, at times, I felt I was managed. I’ve also spoken to Joe and I understand where I stand with it all.
“I feel backed by these guys, who gave me good feedback in terms of what I need to do. I know what I’ve got to do now to have a successful international career.”
At 23 years old, time is on Bess’ side, a fact that does not escape his notice when he looks at the leading spinners in world cricket.
“When you look at Ravichandran Ashwin or Nathan Lyon, they have 10 years on me,” he said.
“They’ve probably been through those experiences at first-class level, I’m having them in Test cricket. Everything is heightened at that level. Hopefully in 10 years I’m still going on England tours and leading the attack with young spinners.”
For now, Bess has moved on to a new chapter of his career, having joined Yorkshire from Somerset ahead of the 2021 county season.
Bess was wicketless on his first outing in the season opener against Glamorgan, although the appearance of snow on day three at Headingley illustrates how unfriendly conditions were.
“I’ve been backed by Yorkshire coming up here and it’s now up to me to deliver,” Bess said.
“I look forward to being a major pillar within a side. I feel part of the bigger picture.
“The pitch may not go my way in terms of it spinning, but how can I control the game? I look at Simon Harmer at Essex, he almost leads that attack and has created a reputation. That’s something I really look up to and it’s really important for me to start thinking that way as well.”
Bess’ former Somerset team-mate Jack Leach ended the India tour with a firm grip on the England spinner’s role, but Bess has no intention of giving up his own claims.
“Of course I want to be involved in the English summer,” he said. “The first Test series against New Zealand is in the back of my head, but I’m very realistic – Leachy had a fantastic winter.
“If I’m not in and around the team, that’s fine, but I can think of the longer picture. Then it’s about looking further down that line to places like Australia and making sure the skills I am working on now are going to be able to cope in those conditions if selected.”
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