Dom Bess hails ‘gritty work’ of Yorkshire CCC

DOM BESS said Yorkshire showed how far they have come with a backs-to-the-wall batting display.

Yorkshire star Dom Bess, unbeaten on 45 at Southampton. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The visitors reached 197-6 on the opening day against Hampshire in Southampton, a valiant effort in challenging circumstances.

Bess, who top-scored with an unbeaten 45 after Yorkshire lost the toss on the greenest of pitches, felt they might have been skittled earlier this season.

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Instead, with the England off-spinner to the fore at No 6, they grafted gamely for 86 overs before bad light ended play with 10 overs left.

Yorkshire's Dom Bess unbeaten on 45 at Hampshire. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I think earlier in the season you’d have probably said we’d have been 100 all-out,” said Bess, who scored relatively quickly in a 75-ball innings that contained four fours.

“It’s a real testament to how we’ve grown and where we want to be as a group going forward.

“That was more pleasing, in a way, than a larger total because it was the tough work, the gritty work, which, at times, probably hasn’t been shown throughout the season.

“But the way that the lads went about it was brilliant, and considering the conditions we faced and the quality of their bowlers, we did really well.”

Yorkshire, at times, have struggled for runs but no one could question their fighting spirit. It was epitomised here by Bess and also by Gary Ballance, who made 42 in three-and-a-half hours, along with the staunch figures of George Hill and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who also survived for over two hours.

Kyle Abbott was a constant menace for the home team, the South African pace bowler returning 3-46 from 18 overs. Brad Wheal chipped in with 2-36 from 17 and Liam Dawson 1-38 from 16, Dawson’s efforts suggesting that there might be some joy for fellow spinner Bess later in the game.

“I don’t think the scoreboard reflects how well we batted, how well we applied ourselves,” added Bess. “It was a really tough day – it was overcast all day – and the ball was nipping about and it was a real challenge out there.

“It was a good toss for them because it was screaming to bowl first, the lights came on pretty early and it was a very green pitch. At the same time, it’s quite dry underneath and it can be a quick-scoring ground once you get in.”

Bess went on: “I suppose it (the cricket) might have looked ugly at times, but I think we’re in a really good position.

“If we can push up towards 300 and get them, say, 30-3, then it’s that sort of pitch, those sort of conditions, where we might be able to put a lot of pressure on them.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ve given ourselves a good foundation.

“We’ve got to set our stall out now to bat as long as possible and it’s important that I keep going myself and hopefully help us push up towards 300.”

Hill and Kohler-Cadmore set the tone after Yorkshire lost Adam Lyth in the 10th over, lbw to Abbott.

Lyth scored only six but those runs took him to exactly 10,000 in County Championship cricket, a proud milestone for one of county cricket’s most reliable performers.

Hill rode his luck as one necessarily had to in the conditions, but the young man looks a fine prospect and it was no mean feat to survive the opening session.

With Kohler-Cadmore, Hill helped Yorkshire to 60-1 at lunch from 31 overs, with Bess reflecting that it was “one of those mornings where we could easily have been 20-3”.

Hill fell to the first ball of the afternoon session, lbw to Abbott, which brought Ballance to the crease at one of his favourite grounds.

The left-hander’s record at the Ageas Bowl is remarkable; his eight previous visits in first-class cricket had brought him 1,007 runs at 83.91, with five hundreds and two fifties, including four hundreds in his last five innings.

Ballance played well again before chipping Dawson to mid-wicket, having faced 119 balls and struck four fours, Yorkshire having earlier lost Kohler-Cadmore – caught behind off a well pitched-up delivery from Abbott – and Harry Brook, bowled by Wheal off an inside-edge.

When Harry Duke was caught low at second slip off Wheal, Yorkshire were 159-6 and Hampshire possibly sensed a quick kill.

However, Bess and Jordan Thompson showed all their skills, defending doggedly and seizing on any scoring opportunities to ensure that the hard yards of earlier did not go to waste.

Having established a foothold in the contest, Bess believes Yorkshire are handily placed.

“I think our attack on that wicket is quite a deadly one,” he said. “The likes of Coady, Patto, who don’t miss length; I don’t think Patto’s missed his length since 1994, so he’ll be pretty good. Tommo, too, and obviously Fish has great skill and bit of extra zip, so hopefully we’ll be able to cash in.”