Moxon was unhappy with some of the criticism levelled at Bess who was dropped for the second and third Tests in India despite having taken 17 wickets in the three Tests prior to that – two in Sri Lanka and the series-opening triumph against India in Chennai.
The Yorkshire director of cricket, who helped to bring Bess to the club on a four-year deal announced last September, felt that the 23-year-old was “an easy target” for critics and pundits who highlighted the player’s struggle for consistency.
Bess admitted that he was blindsided by his axing after the first Test, describing it as “a tough pill to swallow”, before being recalled for the fourth and final game when his difficulties only started again.
Moxon did not name names or single anyone out for criticising Bess but he did feel that the general tone of analysis and judgement, while not suggesting that it should have deviated from the facts, was unfair on a cricketer making his way.
“I was really disappointed for him, to be honest,” said Moxon. “I think some of the coverage was too hard and we should be encouraging and supporting a young spinner who’s already performed well at international level; we don’t want to be destroying a young talent through very harsh criticism.
“Yeah, you could say that he didn’t bowl well at times, but at other times he bowled very well indeed and got plenty of wickets.
“Some of the words I saw used were over-the-top and some of the coverage was very unfair.”
Bess joined Yorkshire from Somerset after impressing during two loan spells at Headingley in 2019 and is still finding his way at first-class level – let alone in international cricket.
The Exeter-born player has made just 51 first-class appearances – 14 of them Test matches – and has played just 29 County Championship games.
Bess actually has a superior Test bowling average to Moeen Ali, who replaced him for the second Test in Chennai, albeit over a sample size roughly one-quarter of Moeen’s career – Bess averages 33.97 from his 14 Tests as opposed to Moeen’s 36.24 from 61 games.
England’s decision to replace Bess with Moeen for the second Test was itself criticised by many observers, given that Moeen was rested for the final two Tests ahead of a T20 series in which he did not play, with the tourists then gambling on pace for the day/night third Test in Ahmedabad.
“Dom has played only a handful of games and is literally learning his trade in international cricket, which is incredibly difficult,” added Moxon.
“We need to protect him as a 23-year-old spinner who’s got huge potential and we have to understand that he’s not going to be a Ravi Ashwin overnight – that type of experienced, quality performer – or a Graeme Swann, who was probably 28 or 29 before he was at his peak.
“It’s not as if Dom didn’t contribute during the winter because he did contribute, that’s the point.
“He contributed in Sri Lanka, he contributed in that first Test in India and got four wickets in the first innings, so to be left out was obviously disappointing for him.
“The problem with that, though, is that when you get left out because they want you to be more consistent, then as soon as you play again you’re under pressure straight away to be consistent.
“Then as soon as you’re not consistent, you’re under even more pressure, so it’s a vicious circle.
“It’s something sportsmen have to deal with, but I thought personally it was over-the-top (the criticism) for what he’s done already playing for England.
“I think he deserves a little bit more understanding than he was shown by the critics, so let’s just understand where he’s at with his career and let’s support him and encourage him rather than absolutely destroy him.”
Moxon said that Bess’s confidence had taken a hit but backed him to come back strongly for Yorkshire this summer.
He said the player is relishing the chance to become a key part of the Yorkshire side, with the club having struggled to replace Adil Rashid’s wickets and runs after the leg-spinner effectively quit first-class cricket three years ago.
“Dom lost some confidence, there’s no doubt about that, because being left out and the criticism he got – it’s very hard not to let that affect you, certainly at 23 years old,” said Moxon.
“It’s very difficult to shrug that off, but he’s hopefully going to build his confidence back up by playing for us and he’ll come back stronger, I’m sure.
“I think he just needs to play some cricket – he’s played very few first-class games, that’s a fact – and he’s looking forward to the season and playing for us.
“We’re looking forward to having him too and giving him the opportunity to gain experience; he’s such a good cricketer, we just need to support him.”
Yorkshire analysis: Page 20
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