Walking in from further away than the average spinner, a la Shane Warne, stalking his prey, but instead of the smooth rip, he bustles through the crease, at his best culminating in a hard side-spun ball looping towards the batsman.
Everything’s in the explosion at the crease. Graeme Swann – who he will have to get used to being compared to – bounced through a fussy run up to put himself in rhythm. Bess has no need for that, the walk in, followed by a simple off-spinner’s action, with all the momentum coming in the last few strides.
Azhar Ali, in his hurry to dominate Bess, managed to defend between his legs with his outside edge, and top edge a sweep within four balls of Bess’s second over.
Asad Shafiq, in his hurry to dominate Bess in his third over, danced down the track to drag a bunt to mid-wicket. Three overs, maybe one drag-down, this is a bowler who deserves some respect. Shades of Moeen Ali versus India in 2014. Respect English spinners, they’re used to batsmen thinking of them as the Ian Botham ‘step and fetch it’.
Babar Azam treated Bess with more respect, as flighted balls were mixed with quicker balls to keep the batsman in his crease. Unlike a lot of young spinners, Bess showed he could push his pace up to 60 mph without losing all his shape, or dragging the ball down. That’ll make ‘em think twice about waltzing down the track.
Most of his first spell of day two was spent getting his respect, quick, not ripped that hard, on target. Then, the last ball of his penultimate over before lunch, 52mph, in the red on Sky’s rev-counter. No more spin, but a sign. I’m ready to attack now.
Next over, next ball, slog-sweep, six. This Test cricket lark is hard work. Still, bravery, another one tossed up afterwards is driven to the cover fielder.
After lunch, he has to wait a while, but once 60 overs are gone, he gets his chance, with the possibility of a straight ten over spell to the new ball. This is what you live for on the first two days of an English Test match. The seamers will have their rest, and I’ll show them.
He teases us with a doosra. It’s not a doosra of course, it’s a hard side-spun offie with the seam tilted to mid-wicket, that turns into almost an off-spinners slider. It definitely goes away, it doesn’t just hold its line, it turns very slightly away. Maybe. It beats the bat at least.
There’s a mix of paces and flight, he’s not Herath, but there’s something there, not just banging away at a line and length and trying to frustrate.
As the second new ball was taken, and Bess’s first extended bowl in Test cricket ended, it was… neither here nor there. No wickets, not especially economically, or especially expensive, neither bowled badly or especially well. Just… there.
Ask Simon Kerrigan about his Test debut though, sometimes just there is just enough.