Spin twins can ease pressure on two fronts by taking inspiration from Somerset footballers

Tony Bishop

England's Taunton terrors have been charged with the responsibility of getting England to 600 when they resume in Chennai in the morning. Dominic Bess and Jack Leach batted with resolve on the second evening, but they know their greater test will come once India are batting.

The pair have shown their stoicism with bat in hand in tight situations already, Leach at Headingley in the 2019 Ashes when, in partnership with Ben Stokes, he scored arguably the most famous one not out in cricket history as England stole the unlikeliest of victories, while Bess recorded a series of important undefeated knocks last summer against the West Indies and Pakistan.

But they need to shine with the ball if England are to have any hope of forcing victory, even if the pitch does begin to favour them.

Though they bring impressive figures on paper from their time in Sri Lanka, England will hope that it is the Bess and Leach of the second innings of the second Test in Galle that turn up rather than their first innings incarnations.

There, they went wicketless from a joint 64 overs but they improved second time around to take eight of the wickets as Sri Lanka collapsed to 126 all out. Bess, of course, took his second five-wicket haul in the first Test but will readily admit that the figures flattered him greatly.

And perusal of the names he has dismissed in a fledgling Test career does not reveal the cream of the cream of international cricketers: Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis are probably the most noteworthy.

But a young man can dream, so it was no surprise who he targeted when he was asked in an interview recently whose wicket he most craves: Virat Kohli.

If he was to get through the Indian captain's defences, he would "go loony and run off", he admitted. It will be interesting to see how far his celebrations take him – Imran Tahir may not need to fear – since he once said the reason he turned to off spin in the first place was that "I was always a little porker when I was younger, so I never had to take the long run-up".

In the same interview with TalkSPORT, Bess was asked who the best and worst footballers in the England camp are. Bess dismissed the claims of Matt Parkinson, saying he has "two left feet" and finally settled for Jos Buttler, but Guerilla Cricket wonders whether that might just be the Somerset old pals act.

That said, Somerset throws up one or two interesting historical inspirations for Bess, Jos and Jack.

Lesley Gay was both an international wicket-keeper and goalkeeper. He made a creditable 33 and took three catches and a stumping against Australia at the SCG in 1894, with Albert Trott's brother George amongst his victims in the one Test that he played. In 1893 and 1894 he was between the posts for England in a 5 -2 victory over Scotland, then tamed the Welsh dragon in a 1-1 draw.

Brian Close, of course, was a tough Test cricketer, but he had also signed for Arsenal before joining Bradford City in the early 1950s as a goalscoring centre forward before a knee injury left him to concentrate on his cricket.

Sam Weaver played twice for Somerset before becoming the club's masseur in 1956. But in 1932 he was an FA Cup winner with Newcastle United and scored 43 goals in his career there before moving to Chelsea.

And finally, for the ultimate inspiration, they can look to the man who was a tough tackling centre half for Yeovil Town and then made 11 appearances for the mighty Iron of Scunthorpe. He was perhaps more famous for his cricket exploits though, was Sir, now Lord, Ian Botham

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