England’s spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel has backed the decision to remove Dom Bess from the firing line in India, but remains confident the 23-year-old has a big future in Test cricket.
Less than a week after the career high of dismissing Virat Kohli cheaply via bat and pad and helping his country to a famous win in Chennai, Bess has lost his place to Moeen Ali for the second Test.
There is a measure of ruthlessness about the decision, given Bess has taken 17 wickets at 22.41 in England’s three sub-continental Tests since the start of the year, but there was a notable dip in his second-innings performance amid a concerning sequence of full-tosses and drag downs.
As well as the physical demands of wheeling away in stifling heat, the turning pitches of the past few weeks have seen him shouldering more expectation than he has been used to with England and Patel feels a break will do both parties good.
“It was a difficult decision to say no to him. But Dom needs a bit of a rest to be honest,” said the former New Zealand international, who is working with the team on a consultancy basis.
“It’s started to become evident to me that Bessy was starting to get a bit tired. That might be taking a toll on his outcomes and in terms of where he’s bowling the ball.
“The reality is, he’s bowled a lot of overs and put a lot of pressure on himself to make sure he does a great job. He’s done that very well, and did an outstanding job in the first innings particular, but it didn’t quite go for him the next innings. I think he felt like he was under pressure, and that’s fine because it’s the fourth innings where we want to win games.”
While being stood down represents a setback, England are more likely to rally behind Bess and help him add the consistency they crave rather than despatch him back to his new county, Yorkshire, at the first opportunity.
And Patel, who seems certain to have his occasional role turned into a more permanent arrangement as the England and Wales Cricket Board bolsters its backroom team, is ready to help.
“He’s only 23 and we forget that because of what he’s done recently,” he added.
“It’s no shock that spinners take a long time to mature and get to where they need to be consistently. He’s still learning his trade. His confidence is growing but every now and then we need to stop, check where we’re at skill-wise and go forward for there.
“We’re going to make sure we get there because we want him to be better and better as the years go on and hopefully hold that position for a long, long time – along with Jack Leach. We don’t know how long Mo is gonna play for, we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow…it’s about making sure we nurture these guys well.”