The unorthodox spinner may always attract criticism but against Sri Lanka he has shown the value of his turbulent style

Dom Bess is at school. He’s reading out loud in class. He’s never been the most gifted of students, but he tries hard and desperately wants to do well. But now – for some reason – the words aren’t coming out. His classmates snigger. His teacher tells him to keep going. Still the words refuse to come. There’s no escape. Breath quickening, cheeks burning with embarrassment and wet with tears, Bess breaks down.

A few years later, Bess and his girlfriend are in Ikea looking at sofas for their new home. His phone rings. It’s Ed Smith, England’s national selector. Bess may only be 20 years old, a raw talent with just 16 first-class appearances. But Jack Leach has broken a thumb, Moeen Ali is burnt out, and so Bess – not even Somerset’s first-choice spinner – is speculatively thrust into the crucible of a Test debut at Lord’s.

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