Dom Bess all set for day four in South Africa

PUBLISHED: 21:36 18 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:44 18 January 2020

Dom Bess bowling from the Duckpond End during the third Test in Port Elizabeth where, when rain stopped play just before lunch of day three, the former Sidmouth player had claimed his first 'fivefer' for England. Picture CHRISTOPHER DEAN

Dom Bess bowling from the Duckpond End during the third Test in Port Elizabeth where, when rain stopped play just before lunch of day three, the former Sidmouth player had claimed his first 'fivefer' for England. Picture CHRISTOPHER DEAN

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South Africa’s lower-order batters had best be on their guard tomorrow (Sunday) as Dom Bess has some more of them in his sights after bagging his first five-wicket haul for England, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Dom Bess clips the ball away to score his first run nfor England in the Second Test at Port Elizabeth. Picture CHRISTOPHER DEANDom Bess clips the ball away to score his first run nfor England in the Second Test at Port Elizabeth. Picture CHRISTOPHER DEAN

Sidmouth's Bess spun out five South African batters at a cost of 51 runs as England turned the screw in the third Test in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa, replying to England's first-innings total of 499 for nine declared, were 208 for six when stumps were pulled today (Saturday).

The only one of the top-seven South African batters to elude Bess was night-watchman Anrich Nortje, who was picked off by Ben Stokes.

Nortje may be the one that got away, but Bess hopes he hasn't finished yet.

Dom Bess heading out to bat for England at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Picture: CHRISTOPHER DEANDom Bess heading out to bat for England at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Picture: CHRISTOPHER DEAN

"There are four more out there and I will be hunting for some of them," said Bess.

Bess has got through some overs in the two Tests he has played in so far. Sixty overs in Cape Town have been followed by 31 so far in Port Elizabeth.When Bess earned his first two England caps against Pakistan in 2018 it was his batting that caught the eye - a half-century on debut followed by 49 as night- watchman.

Having bagged a 'pair' in the Cape Town Test earlier this month, Bess has moved down the order and the England management prioritised his bowling.

Said Bess: "I love bowling and to have that responsibility and to back it up was very important for me as it gave me more confidence.

"I am an optimistic bloke anyway, but to get that under my belt was awesome."

Bess is the first England spinner to take the first five wickets in a Test innings since Derek Underwood against Australia at Adelaide in 1975.

He is the third-youngest England spinner to take a Test five-for, after Pat Pocock (21 years, 256 days) and Underwood (22 years, 63 days).

Bess is the first England off-spinner to take a Test five-for overseas since Moeen Ali against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2016.

And he is just the third overseas spinner to take five wickets in an innings in Port Elizabeth, after esteemed Australian pair Richie Benaud and Nathan Lyon.

Bess flew out to join the England squad after the tour started when reinforcements were needed to cover for players suffering from illness.

The Somerset and Sidmouth spinner, who went through Devon's youth ranks on his way to the professional game, has taken the England place of county colleague Jack Leach, who has been forced to fly home due to illness.

"I'm gutted for Leachy but that's how opportunities come and you've got to take them and hopefully it's the start of something longer," Bess has said.

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