By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
DOM Bess has been working closely with another former Devon spinner ahead of England’s two-match series in Sri Lanka.
Bess, formerly a club cricketer with Sidmouth and Exeter, has been developing his game with ex-England off-spinner Richard Dawson.
Dawson played for Devon in 1999-2000 while a student at the University of Exeter. Within 18 months of playing his last game for Devon, a 21-year-old Dawson made his England debut during the 2001-02 winter tour of India.
These days Yorkshireman Dawson is head coach at Gloucestershire in addition to his England role.
Bess, who left Somerset for Yorkshire at the end of the 2020 season, has been working extensively with Dawson for the last 12 months both at home and abroad. He believes Dawson’s input is helping his development for county club and country.
“It was only around this time last year that we properly met when we went away to India on an England spin-bowling camp,” said Bess.
“We’d only briefly crossed paths beforehand. But on that India trip, we had five weeks together, and we got on straightaway.
“He was the England Lions coach in Australia when I wwent there from the Test tour of South Africa at the start of the year.
“He was also with us during the summer Test series, and also beforehand, when Somerset and Gloucestershire linked up for training as part of the return to training following Covid.
“It’s been continual progress with him, which is great.”
Bess has already won more Test caps than Dawson, who made the last of his eight England appearances during the 2002-03 Ashes Series in Australia. England lost the series 4-1 and Dawson was never picked again.
Dawson’s First Class career fizzled out in 2009 after stints with Yorkshire, Northants and Gloucestershire.
Dawson was appointed as Gloucestershire’s head coach in early 2015. He is a specialist spin-bowling coach and one of the most highly respected young coaches in the country.
Bess says having trodden similar paths there is a rapport between player and coach.
“I get on really well with him because he’s very black and white – he tells it how it is,” said Bess.
“We have great, honest conversations about my development and where I can go and what I need to get done.
“It’s his understanding and game awareness that I really relate to. He loves spin bowling and thinking about it.
“He’s not afraid of telling me what I need to do to improve.
“He talks a lot about what he would have done with his England career had he be given a second chance, and I think he sees the journey that I’ve been on within him to a degree.
“For me, that’s really good, and he’s someone I can tap into it.”
England arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday and were greeted at Hambantota
Airport by a welcoming committee of sanitizers armed with disinfectant spray guns. The First Test starts in Galle on January 14.