Yorkshire spinner insists Australian can serve as inspiration
DOM Bess has revealed how Australian striker Usman Khawaja’s recent successful return to Test cricket is helping him remain patient with his own international ambitions.
The Yorkshire off-spinner reflected on a profitable first full season at Headingley in 2021, followed by a frustrating winter in Australia with English side Ashes.
Devonian Bess will return to the South West this week for Yorkshire’s LV=Insurance County Championship Division 1 opener against Gloucestershire in Bristol, starting today.
Bess took 28 wickets in 14 Championship appearances last season, including innings of six and seven wickets in away wins at Sussex and Northamptonshire, added to 399 runs in order.
He also won 12 wickets in 13 appearances in the Vitality Blast and the Royal London Cup, captaining the Vikings three times in the latter competition.
“I probably didn’t win as many wickets as I would have liked, but if you look at where we got to at the end of the season, we challenged for all three trophies,” Bess said.
“We got to the quarter-finals of the two limited competitions, and if we had beaten Hampshire there in the Championship, this competition would have been different.
“I think I grew into it, which was good. Overall I was happy. It was a good first year for me.
“I showed what I could do with the white ball, and I’m a more complete bowler now than I was before I came (from Somerset).
“As players we can be typecast in and out of certain formats. So the most important thing for me last year was that I showed that I could be effective with the white ball.
“My T20 stats were pretty good when I came on. I impacted games and went to six-plus, which is pretty hard to do. More importantly, I helped win performances for Yorkshire, and we made great progress.
Bess admitted his pride in captaining Yorkshire at the start of the RL50, before international commitments.
“I know there were some guys missing, but that’s an area I’d like to continue in,” he said. “I think there was a very good responsibility for me.
“We have a great club captain in Steve Patterson, and there are a lot of leaders in the squad. I would like to be considered one of them.
Bess would be willing to redo the job this season if needed: “If it comes, it comes,” he said. “If not, it won’t make any difference because I just want to make sure I have a good influence around the place.”
Bess was part of England’s Ashes tour but sat out the 4-0 loss.
He says: “Personally, I was quite frustrated with the winter and how it went. It was hard, and I struggled with it.
“Going to Australia and losing like that was tough, even though I didn’t play. But I was able to get good training outdoors and learned a lot – both in life and in cricket.
“I think it will make me a more complete guy, which is important because I’m still only 24.
“I’ve had ups in international cricket, and I’ve had downs as well. I get it, I get it. But I just see myself continuing to grow and mature.
“I can watch someone like Usman Khawaja and see how he got into that Ashes series, played and pitched in Pakistan (751 runs in five Tests this year with four hundred).
“Just watching him go about his business after a while on the sidelines shows what can be achieved. I still have plenty of time ahead of me.
Bess may not have played a central role in England’s Ashes plans, but that’s exactly what he will be for Yorkshire this summer.
Gloucester’s game is followed by a trip to face Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, where Bess won a first leg, his career-best seven last year.
“Hopefully it will shoot again if the weather keeps away,” he smiled.
But first, a clash with a county he knows well.
“Gloucester are a strong team,” he added. “They have a great team.
“Being a South West boy and growing up with the Somerset and Gloucester rivalry I have seen them progress as a county.
“But I also know how strong our team is.
“We have a lot of experience, some Academy graduates, away players like me and from abroad on top of that.
“They’re a really exciting group, and I think we can be really confident this summer.”
Harry Duke (week)
Steve Patterson (c)