Dom Bess has admitted he was caught off guard by his England dropping and found his spell on the sidelines a “tough pill to swallow”.
The off-spinner is a near certainty to return to the XI for Thursday’s fourth and final Test against India in Ahmedabad, with the tourists already accepting they got things wrong by relying on seam in their two-day defeat on the same ground last week.
Bess claimed 17 wickets in his first three matches of the winter, two against Sri Lanka and the series-opening victory in Chennai, but struggled for consistency at times and sent down a number of full tosses in an uncertain final spell.
He was initially replaced by Moeen Ali, but was overlooked once again as England made an ill-fated decision to gamble on pace for the day/night match.
All set for our final Test of the winter 🏴🏏 pic.twitter.com/vNUzih3wSC— England Cricket (@englandcricket) March 3, 2021
Bess is known for his ebullient mindset and self-belief, qualities his team-mates will hope have not been damaged by events of the past fortnight as they look for a win that would square the series at 2-2.
“It was certainly a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t see it round the corner,” the 23-year-old said of his axing.
“Personally, I didn’t think I needed it but, as time went on, it was probably the best option. I do think a lot about the game. I’m always trying to get better, whether thinking about it or doing it physically.
“So the hardest part for me was getting away from it and I guess the management did it for me. It has freshened me up, I’ve thought about things and then had time to work on it.
“Hopefully I’ll look back over the period and think it’s actually been a real success heading into this last game. Now, for six or 12 months time…I was happy, probably, with that little break.”
It was certainly a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t see it round the cornerDom Bess
Asked if he was now ready to step back into the breach against buoyant opponents who have a place in the World Test Championship final to play for, he added: “I certainly am. It’s a massive honour to play for your country. I’ll always give my all.
“I’m in a great space right now to come back in. We’re under a bit of pressure, but it’s a great opportunity to perform. I know I’m ready. It’s very exciting if I get the chance to head out with 10 other blokes to try to draw the series.
“It’s been tough to watch these last two games as it’s been spinning. There’s always going to be pressure, but I’d rather be bowling on spinning wickets than green ones at Trent Bridge, or somewhere.”
England have been dealing with the added distraction of a sickness bug in the camp in recent days, but remain hopeful it will have no impact on their team selection.
“Everyone is fit, hopefully that stays the case and everyone is available for the game, but we’ll give ourselves a bit more time in terms of naming a squad,” said captain Joe Root after the final net session.
“Everyone came into training except three of the seamers who did gym work at the hotel. Everyone has prepared how they would like to.”
Root left his fellow batsmen with one final word of advice, emphasising the need to adopt a proactive approach rather than sit back and wait for India’s spinners to weave a now familiar spell.
“First of all it’s important to play with our bat, not our front pad,” he said.
“I’d hate to see the guys go out there and look nervous, not trusting their own game. I’d hate for us to sit in a bunker the whole time and fend our way through it.
“If you’re doubting yourself, you’re not giving yourself the best chance. There’s some very talented players here, who I’m sure will be really relishing this challenge and will want to come out of this series with a big score.
“A big score on this wicket might not be 100 or 150, it might be a really well constructed 70 or 80.”