Bess inspires Somerset fightback
Nineteen-year-old Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess marked his Specsavers County Championship debut with six for 28 as 21 wickets fell on the opening day of the match with Warwickshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
The England Under-19 player, from Sidmouth, produced a memorable 16 overs, including the wickets of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell with successive deliveries, as the visitors were bowled out 123.
That was after Somerset had been skittled for 95 after winning the toss. Warwickshire’s pace bowlers did the damage with Keith Barker claiming four for 33, Rikki Clarke three for 32 and Chris Wright two for 28.
By the close of an extraordinary day the home side had made 41 for one in their second innings and led by 13. The pitch offered some assistance to spin and seam without being in any way dangerous. Swing and poor shot selection also contributed to the carnage.
Somerset named three spinners in their side, clearly expecting the ball to turn, but were undone by seam as they were bowled out in 30.1 overs before the end of an extended opening session. Barker bowled the first 14 overs of the day from the Somerset Pavilion End, sending back Chris Rogers, James Hildreth, Peter Trego and Roelof van der Merwe in an accurate spell that saw him swing the ball and nip it about off the seam.
Wright had set the ball rolling by pinning Marcus Trescothick lbw, while Clarke sent back Lewis Gregory with his first delivery of the match and later accounted for Ryan Davies and Bess. With Somerset nine wickets down, Warwickshire claimed the extra half hour in the morning session and Jeetan Patel put the home side out of their misery by dismissing Jack Leach with his first ball after a last-wicket stand of 26 with Tim Groenewald, the best of the innings.
Warwickshire reached 62 for one in reply before Bess had Trott caught at leg slip sweeping. The next ball saw Bell hit the ball into a pad and offer up a return catch which the teenager gleefully snaffled. Westwood fell to a good delivery from Bess that turned and lifted before Leach squeezed a ball between Matthew Lamb’s bat and pad to bowl him for a single.
At tea Warwickshire were 81 for five. Trescothick then produced a brilliant diving catch at second slip off Groenewald to dismiss Sam Hain for nine. Barker and Clarke fell to shots they will not want to remember as Bess, who bowled at just the right pace and trajectory to extract maximum turn, added to his tally. Patel was his sixth victim courtesy of another injudicious stroke and Leach wrapped up the innings by clean bowling Wright.
Bess led his side off, showing the ball to all sides of the ground as relieved home supporters gave him a warm ovation.
There was still time for Tom Abell to fall lbw to Josh Poysden for 15 with Somerset’s second innings total on 31.
The experienced duo of Trescothick and Rogers had five more overs to negotiate and they did so thanks to Poysden dropping Rogers on five at fine leg off a top-edged pull, Barker being the unlucky bowler.
After his superb display Dom Bess said: “It was all a bit surreal for me today. When I walked out to bat it was a tricky situation with the ball doing all sorts of things, especially with the seamers. To only get 95 wasn’t what we wanted at all. To have 21 wickets falling in a day is remarkable and certainly I have never played in a game like it.
“It all went pretty well for me almost from the start when I took that catch off Tim Groenewald at square leg. I saw it and went for it and luckily it stuck for me, which was a good start. You want to be impressing in front of your home crowd so to grab that catch was massive to get them one down, so I was very happy.”
Talking about his first two wickets, Trott and then Bell next ball Bess said: “The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when you say it. To get Trott as my first wicket and then to get Bell the ball straight after was remarkable. To see him run down and prod one back to me I knew that I had to hold onto it- just keep hold of it. That was a very special moment for me.
“Barker and Clarke came on and hit their lengths. We had a couple caught down the leg side which was frustrating but they bowled really well. It was tough and they have got Patel who we all know is their dangerman with the ball, but the seamers bowled very well in the first innings.”
Looking to the morning Dom said: “There have been 21 wickets already on the opening day, so we know that it’s not going to be a draw. There will be a result and hopefully we can bat as long as possible and give ourselves as much of a chance to bowl them out, but it will be very interesting.”