England captain Joe Root has tipped Dom Bess to use spinning conditions in Galle to prove he can be a leading man in Test cricket as well as a support act.
Thursday’s series-opener against Sri Lanka will be Bess’ 11th Test appearance but his first on the sub-continent, where conditions typically allow for slow bowlers to take centre stage.
Bess has had to settle for a more low-key role for the majority of his international cricket thus far, failing to bowl an over in four of his 15 innings in the field and often being used to hold down an end for the seamers rather than attack in his own right.
But Root has not forgotten the 23-year-old’s career-best haul of five for 51, when he finally found helpful conditions against South Africa last winter, and is expecting him to shine again.
“We know Dom has the ability and skills if it does start spinning quite quickly to take advantage of that. It’s a really good opportunity for him to show what he can do in these conditions,” Root said.
“I think the fact that he’s experienced big spinning conditions already at home in Somerset colours will hold him in really good stead and he also had success in Port Elizabeth, where it did spin quite drastically.
“As someone right at the start of his career, he’s still learning that and that’s exciting to see that he’s had success already, and coming into these conditions where they might be slightly more in his favour, he could potentially really make a mark on this tour.”
England are also expecting a final briefing before taking the field to remind them of how much they should interact in the heat of the game, with footballers back home increasingly under the microscope for celebrating in close proximity despite the spread of coronavirus.
Elbow touches and fist bumps have been encouraged in cricket since the outbreak of the pandemic and Root suggested they would be attempting to show restraint again in the coming weeks.
“I’m sure the medical staff will make sure that the protocols are kept in place and that if there is anything that needs to be discussed before the game starts, then we are made very well aware of it,” he said.
“We’ll do as best we can to make sure we adhere to that.”