DOM BESS, who made the last of his two Test appearances for England at Emerald Headingley last summer, has signed for Yorkshire on a one-month loan.
The Somerset off-spinner, 21, is available for the next four County Championship games, starting with next Tuesday’s match against Kent at Canterbury.
Bess is also available for the fixtures against Hampshire and Essex at Headingley and the trip to face Surrey at Guildford.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said that the club will then “assess the situation”, raising the possibility that the loan could be extended or the move made permanent, although Moxon described such talk as “premature” and stressed that “he’s a Somerset player”, telling The Yorkshire Post: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
Bess, who helped England to a series-levelling innings victory against Pakistan at Headingley last year, with three wickets and an innings of 49 as nightwatchman, has grown frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities at Taunton, where he is behind left-arm spinner Jack Leach in the pecking order.
Exeter-born Bess, who went wicketless on his Test debut but scored a fighting 57 in the preceding nine-wicket defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s, himself asked to go on loan as he seeks to rekindle his England ambitions, with a permanent switch to Yorkshire possibly in his and the club’s long-term interests.
The club are without first-choice leg-spinner Adil Rashid due to England duty, amid ongoing uncertainty as to whether he wants to play Championship cricket going forward, while Josh Poysden, the 27-year-old leg-spinner signed from Warwickshire last year, has this summer solely featured in white-ball cricket.
However, Moxon said this of Poysden: “We signed Josh knowing that he’s inexperienced as far as Championship cricket is concerned. It’s work in progress. He’s got an opportunity now to play three back-to-back second-team games where he can get some overs in and hopefully stake his claim (for Championship cricket).”
Bess, who at 20 years and 306 days was England’s second youngest specialist spinner after 19-year-old Ian Peebles against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1927, is in no mood to sit still in the south-west, while Yorkshire’s recruitment of him is also firm evidence of their desire to challenge for the Championship title once more.
Bess admitted last winter that he needs to be “No 1 somewhere” to help further his England aims, and he said of his loan switch: “I haven’t been getting the cricket that I would like.
“Once I got a general idea of where I was, I asked if I could go on loan.
“I’ve been on the loan list for a while and luckily Andrew Gale (the Yorkshire first-team coach) got in touch through my agent and spoke about an opportunity for a month or so playing Championship cricket for Yorkshire.
“At the moment it’s a chance to get some cricket under my belt. To have this opportunity, and for Yorkshire to be able to give me this opportunity, I hope I can repay them.”
Bess, who went from the Test team to the Somerset Second XI in the space of a month, or, as he memorably put it, “from Lord’s in front of 30,000 people to Taunton Vale in front of a man and his dog”, answers not only Yorkshire’s primary need for a four-day spinner but also provides a useful batting option, with Yorkshire more comfortable playing a spinner who can bat at No 7 or No 8.
He is no slouch in the field either as he showed in the Headingley Test with a brilliant diving catch at mid-off to dismiss Haris Sohail off James Anderson.
“When Dom became available we thought that it would be advantageous for us,” said Moxon. “It helps the balance of the team as he can bat as well as bowl his off-spin.
“Dom is a highly talented young cricketer who clearly needs to be playing first-team cricket. At Somerset Dom isn’t getting the opportunity with Jack Leach playing, so we feel that it is the right time to loan him.
“Our senior spinner in Josh Poysden hasn’t played any red-ball cricket yet this season. James Logan is currently injured, and Karl Carver hasn’t had much opportunity in red-ball cricket so far. Given the circumstances we felt that it would be a good move.
“This is for a month initially. There is an opportunity now for the spinners on the staff to play in the Second XI and hopefully put in some good performances to warrant selection before we assess the situation in a month’s time.”
Although they have been knocked out of the Royal London One-Day Cup, with Moxon candidly admitting that they simply did not play well enough to qualify for the knockout stages, Yorkshire have made an encouraging start in the Championship First Division.
A draw away to Nottinghamshire was followed by a fine victory at Hampshire, although the club will be challenged henceforth by the absence of England Test captain Joe Root, who made key contributions in both fixtures.
“We’ve had a good start,” said Moxon. “The areas that are challenging us at the moment are the top order and spin. We feel if we can really crack those two areas, our seam attack’s strong and we’re going to be very competitive.”