England off-spinner Dom Bess says he has asked to be promoted to open the batting at Somerset, his county club, in an effort to get more game time.
The state of spin bowling in England is a perennial topic of debate, but especially early in the season, when conditions suit seam over spin and twirlers struggle to get a look in. With more and more of the Championship season scheduled early in the year to allow for white-ball cricket to be played in the middle of the summer, some spinners are forced to try and find their way into teams by offering value in other areas, and for Bess, who claimed his first Test five-for against South Africa in the winter, that has meant asking to be trialled as a top-order batsman.
“For me the greatest challenge at this moment is trying to get into that side when we’ve got Leachy [Somerset and England left-arm spinner Jack Leach] in it, and I try and push it in other aspects,” Bess said on the Two Hacks, One Pro podcast. “The amount of times I’ve said to Abes [Somerset captain Tom Abell], ‘Do you reckon I can open?’ We went through a stage where we didn’t know what was going to happen with Tres [former Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick] and I was like, ‘Might as well throw me up there, see what I can do’, trying to get in that way.”
Bess’ first stint in the England Test side saw him shine more with bat than ball, with the youngster making a half-century on debut against Pakistan, and in time he wants to be seen as an all-rounder. “I’m a confidence player and I think that if I can contribute in any way to a side, I think that’s crucial,” he said. “If you look at the all-rounders, if they’re not contributing with the bat, they’ve got the ball in hand and they’re doing the job and vice versa, and that’s somewhere I really want to get to.
“It makes you a three-dimensional player and I think that’s key now with the formats and the way cricket’s going. It’s quite interesting because when I was younger, on the Academy, I wasn’t one of the standout players, I didn’t play England under-19s until quite late, and there was a drive to just somehow get picked in the academy and make sure I was getting picked in all three formats. All three sides of the game has helped me pip other bowlers to get into that international side at times.”
However, he acknowledges that bowling is his “no.1 strength”, and that it’s important he focuses on that discipline above the others. “It’s also making sure that I spend enough time on my bowling because that is my no.1 strength, and England have told me that a couple of times,” he said. “I remember being in the nets with [former England Lions head coach] Andy Flower for a while and all I was doing was batting, and he said, ‘Bessy remember you’re not a top-four batter, you do have to bowl, joking aside’.