LONDON: Former paceman Steve Harmison said Dom Bess had been “chucked under the bus” by England after the off-spinner struggled against India during the fourth Test in Ahmedabad on Friday.
India ended the second day on 294-7 in reply to England’s first-innings 205 all out, a lead of 89 runs, after Rishabh Pant‘s hundred led a recovery from 146-6.
On a pitch on which India’s spinners had shared eight wickets between them, Bess had figures of 0-56, with England captain Joe Root giving him just 15 overs in the day’s play.
Bess, despite taking 17 wickets at just 22 in England’s first three Tests of their winter tour — two games against Sri Lanka and the series opener with India in Chennai — was then replaced by fellow off-spinner Moeen Ali.
England then asked Moeen to delay a rest break previously authorised by team management, only for the all-rounder to decide to leave the squad as planned.
Bess was then recalled for a match England need to win to end the four-Test series all square at 2-2.
Former England fast bowler Harmison said that, in the circumstances, it was no surprise that the 23-year-old had not been at his best.
“Dom Bess was chucked under the bus by the whole hullabaloo with Moeen Ali,” Harmison told Talksport radio.
“The minute they asked Moeen Ali to stay was the minute Bess was going under that bus…. That’s culminated in the day’s cricket that we’ve got today (Friday).
“He sat and watched for the last two or three weeks and all he can think about is Moeen Ali staying — ‘everybody’s wanting Moeen Ali’.
“I feel so sorry for the kid, I really do. I have so much sympathy with him, I’ve been in that place and I know where he’s at.”
Former England captain Andrew Strauss, while sympathising with Bess, said a performance strewn with loose deliveries was “well below what was required of a mainline Test spin bowler”.
“It was painful to watch if I’m honest,” Strauss told Channel Four television. “I felt slightly sorry for him at points and you just can’t have that in Test cricket.”
England spin-bowling coach Jeetan Patel said he thought Bess would “be quite down”.
“But the beauty of this game, and I mean it, is there’s another opportunity tomorrow,” the former New Zealand bowler told reporters after stumps.