Essex 18 for 1 trail Yorkshire 390 (Lyth 95, Bess 91*, Kohler-Cadmore 83) by 372 runs
Dom Bess' short professional career has not been short of incident. As a teenager, he was a Somerset debutant thrown spectacularly into a Championship challenge which only failed on the last day of the season. At 20, he became the first hunch of the national selector, Ed Smith, when he was given a Test debut last season against Pakistan only to be stood down after two Tests.
He now finds himself on a month's loan at Yorkshire where his effervescent manner and all-round talent can again create a good impression. Just to confirm, however, that life for Bess is rarely straightforward, his chances of registering a second first-class hundred departed against Essex when he ran out of partners on 91.
Bess, though, might still have a role to play with the ball, answering Yorkshire's glaring need, if only briefly, for a Championship spinner of quality in the third game of an envisaged four-game loan spell. They will imagine that the heavy rain on the second afternoon, which restricted play to 36.3 overs, will leave enough unsettled weather around for their seamers to prosper on the third day when Essex resume on 18 for 1, so setting up Bess to play a central role in the later stages.
Somerset's coaching team of Andy Hurry and Jason Kerr deserve considerable credit for sanctioning Bess' loan spell at a potential Championship rival, recognising that his career development, at 21, should be the priority. As the spin-bowling understudy to the excellent Jack Leach, his opportunities are limited, especially when the ECB takes a dim view of the sort of sharply turning pitches on which they almost pipped Middlesex to the title in 2016. He has 89 first-class wickets at a touch under 30 and needs to add to them.
England will be grateful, too, because understudies to Moeen Ali, whose form remains unpredictable, are not exactly jostling for attention. Bess' positive attitude sits well with England. In his days as the head of ECB's development programme, Hurry would have been anxious for Bess to be playing regular county cricket and it is admirable that those values have survived more pressing responsibilities at Somerset.
Yorkshire would be foolish not to hope that Bess' involvement might be more long lasting. As an Exeter lad, his loyalties to the south-west are strong, but it will have its limits. Few seriously imagine that Adil Rashid will suddenly discover a renewed fondness for Championship cricket and, Rashid apart, Yorkshire have long struggled to produce spinners of quality. Headingley, too, for all its maverick ways when the clouds roll over, now regularly produces surfaces on which spin can play a part.
Bess has shown a liking for this Essex attack. His only other first-class century came for the MCC against the champion county in 2018, following their title win the previous September. At 289 for 6 overnight, Bess' share was only 30, but he played tidily against some lacklustre Essex bowling, shrewdly picking off 15 boundaries when the opportunities presented themselves. "I think everybody was expecting it to rain," said Anthony McGrath, Essex's coach.
Bess said: "I never felt in. It was still doing a bit, and I nicked a couple. You have to ride your luck sometimes. I'd have loved to have got my first hundred in the Championship, but it was just nice to be in there facing a lot of balls and just playing cricket. There is certainly a lot there for our bowlers. I think we're in a great position."
Jonny Tattersall offered sound support as they extended their seventh-wicket stand to 90, but Tattersall was caught at the wicket, attempting an improvised guide against Ravi Bopara, Jamie Porter removed Steve Patterson and Ben Coad with the new ball as Essex finally perked up and last man Duanne Olivier lasted only four balls as he edged Sam Cook to second slip.
Yorkshire had time to take one wicket before rain ended play at 2.15pm when Sir Alastair Cook fell for two at first slip - pushing at a full-length ball from Ben Coad that left him and gave a 25th catch of the season for Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Pomp and ceremony might have been the order of the day in London as Donald Trump continued his State visit, but there was no grace and favour for Sir Alastair in the county that knows only too well that Geoffrey Boycott has never been knighted.
Neither Labour nor Tory Governments have quite dared take the plunge when it comes to ennobling Boycott. Perhaps they should put it to a referendum. It would be something to divide the country again once Brexit is settled.