The Bess boys done good! From Dom’s England ‘fivefer’ in South Africa to a Josh Devon unbeaten double hundred at the Fortfield

PUBLISHED: 12:13 09 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:13 09 May 2020

Dom Bess fielding for England on day four of the test match in Port Elizabeth. Picture: CHRISTOPHER DEAN

Dom Bess fielding for England on day four of the test match in Port Elizabeth. Picture: CHRISTOPHER DEAN

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Dominic Bess, cousin of the three Bess brothers, who began his cricket at Sidmouth, is now an established Somerset professional who has also played well for the England Lions and for the MCC side against the Champion County in Barbados in March 2018, scoring a century and taking six second innings wickets in the comprehensive defeat of Essex.

Mike Coxhead hands over a framed memento of the game against Dorset in which Josh Bess scored 203 and 70 and took six wickets and six catches. Picture: DEVON CCCMike Coxhead hands over a framed memento of the game against Dorset in which Josh Bess scored 203 and 70 and took six wickets and six catches. Picture: DEVON CCC

He made his Test debut for England in the meeting with Pakistan that was played in July 2018, playing in two of the home Test matches, scoring a half-century in the second innings of the first match.

In January 2020, he was selected again for England and played against South Africa in the Test at Newlands, Cape Town and then, at Port Elizabeth in the third of the Test of the series he took 5-50 in the South African first innings and, in doing so, became the third youngest spin bowler after Pat Pocock and Derek Underwood in England Test history to take a ‘fivfer’.

There is no doubting that Dom [Dominic Bess] is a born and bred Sidmothian, who started his climb to stardom by practising in the club nets with his grandfather, Gerald and other family members from the age of four or five.

He played from Sidmouth junior teams and, from the age of 10-11, spent much of the summer holidays in the nets with friends and cousins.

Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis, Croquet and Hockey Club at the Fortfield. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5558-26-12SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis, Croquet and Hockey Club at the Fortfield. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5558-26-12SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

One of the unique features of Sidmouth CC is the total number of matches played each summer between Sidmouth and touring teams.

A young Dom and his friends were often recruited to make up the numbers if Sidmouth were short against quite good quality opposition.

Thus Dom began to play midweek club cricket at an early age and with success. He scored a 50 at the age of 11 and regularly took useful wickets in competitive matches. Indeed, such was his early development that he was at Devon Premier League, all-rounder standard by the age of 14-15!

Dom’s cousin, Josh Bess, who played for Devon 2007-2018, was captain of the county side for four years and was Man of the Match against Cambridgeshire in the winning MCCA Championship final in 2011. Josh also captained Devon to MCCA KO Trophy success against Oxfordshire in 2014 and was an outstanding minor counties all-rounder for over 10 years.

Josh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Exmouth. Ref shsp 20 19TI 4833. Picture: Terry IfeJosh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Exmouth. Ref shsp 20 19TI 4833. Picture: Terry Ife

In a 2018 championship match versus Dorset, played at the Fortfield, Josh hit an unbeaten 203 in the first innings and followed that up with 70 in the second innings and also captured six wickets in the match, including 5-30 in the Dorset second innings. Oh yes, and to cap a superb individual display, he also held six catches in what was a huge Devon victory!

If circumstances had been different, and he had not qualified with a BSc and a MSc in Physiotherapy, Josh would indeed have been a fine first-class cricketer.

Freddy Brown, a bowling all-rounder, was the first Sidmouth player to represent England. The brown family had Sidmouth connections and he played on holiday at the Fortfield in 1927-30. FR Brown played 22 times for England, the first of which was in 1931 against New Zealand. He was born in Lima, Peru and played for Cambridgeshire and Surrey before receiving his cap.

He was brought back into the Test arena after many years to captain the team against the West Indies at the Oval in 1950 and subsequently led England in Australia in 1950-51. He was one of the last amateur Test captains whose leadership skills were well regarded.

Dom Bess bowling for Sidmouth 2nd's against Bovey Tracey. Photo by Terry Ife ref shsp 9620-32-12TI To Order a copy of this photo visit www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24Dom Bess bowling for Sidmouth 2nd's against Bovey Tracey. Photo by Terry Ife ref shsp 9620-32-12TI To Order a copy of this photo visit www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

In 2010 Hilton Cartwright, a recent Australian Test player had a summer at Sidmouth. Adam Dibble had six years on the Somerset staff, 2009-20015, and, in 2015 Andy Mathieson, another overseas player, represented New Zealand in a one-day international while playing for Sidmouth as an opening bowler.

Jodie Dibble, Adams younger sister, who turned out a few times for Sidmouth 2nd and 3rd X1s, won indoor England caps and subsequently played in the national professional women’s franchise competition for Yorkshire.

The impressive achievement of the 1st X1 have been matched by the success of the 2nd X1 in winning their league in 1983 and then a further twelve times between 1998 and 2017, demonstrating a remarkable consistency.

The team has comprised an excellent blend of youth and experience with Saj Patidar, John Goodwin, Graham Munday and Charlie Dibble providing all-round stability.

The third X1 have also done very well with a similar mix of wise older hands to guide talented youth.

The side won the D Division in 2001 and 2003, the C Division in 2004 and the B Division in 2005.

Once again old hands such as Tom Overthrow and Mike Dibble played a major part in the team’s achievements on well-appointed grounds at Bicton and Newton Poppleford that have been carefully looked after by members of Sidmouth CC

Such success at all levels in the club, as junior sides have also done excellently is a tribute to the time and effort put in by players, coaches and organisers alike. Since the millennium the Devon League attainments of Sidmouth CC have been better than at any other time in the club’s history,

It is no accident, at the same time as achievement has occurred on the cricket field, that the tennis and croquet sections has never been stronger, all boosted in the last two decades by the August fund raising work of Mike Dibble, former cricket chairman, whose superb organisation has ensured a significant annual return from Folk Week parking to the benefit of the whole club.

The idea came from distinguished former president, Brian Drake, whose optimism in promoting the project has been totally justified.

The grass surfaces for playing all three sports have never been better and the quality of cricket pitches produced by groundsman, Colin Whitehall, have been of the highest quality.

Devon now request to play more matches at Sidmouth than on any other home ground and in the last few years a number of Minor Counties representative matches have been played at the Fortfield.

In conclusion, Sidmouth CC is one of very few cricket clubs that have existed continuously for up to two centuries and is nearing its 200th birthday.

The Fortfield has had a remarkably extensive and varied fixture list, over time, and the club has welcomed touring teams not only from all over the country, but also from Europe, South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Each season it plays more matches than most other clubs in the UK and over the last century very many international cricketers have graced the magnificent ground.

Historically, some of its players and administrators have also made real contributions to Devon cricket.

A record of seven Sidmouth players have represented the County in the last few years, and Josh Bess was the distinguished Sidmouth-based Devon captain in 2013-18, following in the illustrious footsteps of FH Carroll and Peter Roebuck.

In its first 50 vulnerable years, the club relied for survival on the inspirational leadership of Captain Clark and Richard N Thornton.

Over the last 20 years, the cricket section has achieved more success on the field with senior and junior teams than ever before and this achievement is essentially the result of the magnificent collective efforts of players and organisers alike.


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