• England off-spinner admits to dreaming of a famous record
• Bess still aiming at nine-wicket haul against South Africa
Dom Bess said he dreamed of taking all 10 South African wickets as he enjoyed the finest moment of his career on day three of the third Test at St George’s Park.
The 22-year-old off-spinner, playing in this series only because of the illness to Jack Leach that led to his Somerset team-mate flying home last Thursday, claimed his first five-wicket haul in Tests on a rain-hit day that ended with the hosts reaching the close on 208 for six in response to England’s first‑innings of 499 for nine declared.
However, during an eventful morning session when Bess added the scalps of Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen to the two he claimed on the second evening, he had a chance of emulating the great Jim Laker, who took 19 Australian wickets – including all 10 in the first innings – during the 1956 Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
Ben Stokes put paid to that in the final session when he grabbed the sixth South Africa wicket, the nightwatchman Anrich Nortje.
Bess, though, is hoping he can still clean up the last four home batsmen and take a nine-wicket haul. “I thought about all 10 a little bit,” he said. “But as soon as I did I was brought back to reality. Ten is a bit greedy, but there’s obviously four still out there and hopefully I can get them but I’ll be happy if we just get them.
“There was a couple of lads out there [in the crowd] who did bet on all 10 and when I got five it was 7-1 I think. Unfortunately, they’ve lost that bet. I’m just happy contributing to be honest. Everyone is contributing in this group – it doesn’t matter what your age is.
“It’s nice to know I am contributing to this side. As long as we get into positions to win games and I’m contributing I’m happy with it.”
Bess is enjoying his moment in the spotlight after a season when he was on loan at Yorkshire after Leach blocked his route into Somerset’s first team. The youngster is also making the most of his unexpected second chance for England having played two home Tests against India in 2018.
“It’s funny how cricket happens, how the ride goes,” said Bess. “I’ll cherish it for a long time because I’ve worked very hard for days like this, but also knowing that hopefully there’s a lot more to come.
“The work I’ve done since my debut, I understand myself, my bowling. I still think there’s a lot to work on for me to get stronger technically, but it’s hopefully the start of a journey.”
As for Leach, who contracted sepsis on England’s tour of New Zealand and has failed to recover fully, Bess hopes he can team up with his close friend on England’s tour of Sri Lanka in March. Bess made his debut against India at Lord’s after Leach broke his thumb.
“It’s getting opportunities where you have to perform because it’s coming in for such a class bowler as Leachy,” he said. “That’s just been the nature of my career.
“I’ve got to take it with a pinch of salt. I remember saying at Lord’s on my debut it was a great opportunity to test my skills. I’m a lot further in my journey than I was before.
“I’m gutted for Leachy, he’s had such a tough time these last six weeks. I know he’ll be happy for me. We’ve always had it, so it seems normal. If it’s not him it’s me, if it’s not me it’s him.
“He’ll be working really hard to get back for Sri Lanka and – hopefully if I get picked and he gets picked – I’d love us to play together. That would be a really nice touch if we could take wickets together for England as well as Somerset.”