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Dom Bess determined to keep England place for first West Indies Test

:Headline: Dom Bess determined to keep England place for first West Indies Test:
The Somerset spinner impressed in South Africa over the winter.

Dom Bess is fully focused on locking down the title of England's number one spinner but admits he first had to shake off some lockdown nerves.

With Moeen Ali on hiatus from Test cricket over the winter and Jack Leach struggling with illness, Bess was handed an unexpected opportunity in South Africa.

He helped a winning cause on his return to international cricket in the New Year Test at Cape Town and then claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in another victory in Port Elizabeth.

And while that makes him the man in possession, Moeen's return to the five-day fold, Leach's return to health and the presence of Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi means no shortage of competition ahead of next week's first #raisethebat Test against the West Indies.

Neither Leach nor Moeen were at their best on day one of England's intra-squad match at the Ageas Bowl, both wicketless in combined figures of 22 overs for 89 as Jos Buttler's side made 287 for five declared.

Bess enjoyed greater success bowling as Ben Stokes' team were dismissed for 233 on Thursday, wheeling his way through 20 overs and dismissing Keaton Jennings to claim one for 60, and he makes no bones about his desire to stay ahead of the pack.

"The big thing I want to do is push that spot and make it my own, In my head, I want to start," said the 22-year-old.

"That's normal, when you're in our position you want to be making the XI. It would be a good achievement and it brings a lot of responsibility to make sure I'm still bowling the best I can.

"There is amazing competition here and that's good. There's no spitefulness, nothing like that, we help each other, we're looking to improve each other. It's a really big challenge for me, making sure when I come into this arena, into these practice games, that I focus on what I can do.

Moeen Ali (left) is back in contention for a Test place (Stu Forster/Pool/PA)

"I think I've done that really well so far and I just want to put myself in the best possible position so that when that selection does come I've given it my all."

While Bess' action looked in good order on his return to competitive after more than three months, he admitted the coronavirus shutdown had left him fretting about how he would feel when he got back to the middle.

"After so much time off I was a bit nervous coming back into it," he said.

"It's been nice to feel the ball coming out nicely in my hand. In the month I had at Somerset I was pushing my coach, Jason Kerr, to keep bowling more. I had to be told a couple of times to stop and just build my way back. I wanted to get that feel back, that rhythm, the little things."

Sometimes, though, the efforts of the man standing 22 yards away can render all of those little things irrelevant.

While generally tight, Bess was on the receiving end of one incredible shot from Stokes that left him open-mouthed.

"It was a really good challenge bowling at Stokesy. I thought I genuinely did him with one and he somehow hit me on the up over extra-cover for six," he said with a smile.

"I was just thinking 'this is why he's one of the best in the world. He's absolutely nowhere near it and he still middles it for six'. It was a good test for me and I think I bounced back strong."

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool38323385335299
2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd391813867373067
4Chelsea392061370571366
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Arsenal381414105648856
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd381412123939054
10Burnley38159144350-754
11Everton401411154858-1053
12Southampton38157165160-952
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RBournemouth3897224065-2534
RWatford38810203664-2834
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool38323385335299
2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd391813867373067
4Chelsea392061370571366
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Arsenal381414105648856
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd381412123939054
10Burnley38159144350-754
11Everton401411154858-1053
12Southampton38157165160-952
13Crystal Palace391210173350-1746
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RBournemouth3897224065-2534
RWatford38810203664-2834
RNorwich CityNorwich3956282677-5121
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