WHAT a difference a year makes.

In June 2016, Dom Bess was yet to make his First Class debut and, despite impressing in Somerset’s 2nd XI, had to wait patiently for his opportunity.

Five County Championship matches and four five-wicket hauls later, Bess is now preparing himself for England Lions duty having been called up alongside Somerset teammates Jamie Overton and Jack Leach.

It’s been a quite remarkable rise, and one which has taken the 19-year-old himself by surprise.

“I can’t really put my finger on why it’s turned out how it has over the last year – it’s all gone so quickly,” he said.

“Last year you would never have predicted that I would be in a position where I was getting a call from James Whitaker about Lions selection.

“I hadn’t heard any whispers about it – I’ve only played six First Class games, so I’ve just been focused on getting in the first team and trying to take my opportunity and win games for Somerset.

“I haven’t really thought too much about the Lions. I just hope I get picked, and it will be nice to meet some new players from around the country so I can pick their brains.”

Bess burst on to the scene last September, taking 6-28 on his Championship debut before another five-fer against Nottinghamshire.

Though results have not gone Somerset’s way so far this season – they remain without a win in their opening six matches – Bess’ bowling (17 wickets at 19.47) has been a shining light in an otherwise disappointing start.

Reflecting on the campaign to date, Bess said: “It was a really tough defeat to take against Yorkshire, but we’ve got ourselves in really good positions in four of the games.

“When you’re winning you always seem to have the rub of the green, but when it’s going against you that doesn’t happen. 

“There’s still loads of belief and there’s still eight games to go – two or three wins can take you right back in the mix.”

Since introducing himself to the First Class game by claiming Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott as his maiden scalps, Bess has played with an assurance beyond his years.

He insists, however, that beneath the calm exterior lies the usual anxieties that come with top level cricket.

“I’m always really nervous going out there,” he said.

“Warwickshire last year was a strange one – we batted first but it was over very quickly. What settled my nerves was a catch I took for their first wicket – Alex Mellor flicked it to me and I took a one-hander at mid-wicket. That set the tone and I felt it was almost meant to be. 

“There are times when I get carried away – I tried bowling an arm ball with my first delivery to Gary Ballance at the weekend and Tres [Marcus Trescothick] just started laughing and told me to get back to bowling my best ball. 

“But it’s been an amazing experience so far – to bowl at Younis Khan on my debut, one of the best players of spin I’ve seen growing up, and have a chat with him afterwards was a really eye-opening experience.”

The youngster was also full of praise for groundsman Simon Lee, who has prepared competitive pitches that have produced some thrilling games.

“The wicket we just played on was a phenomenal pitch with something for everyone – it had turn but if you got yourself in you could score runs on it.

“It gets bad press but the wicket we played on against Yorkshire was great, and Tuesday’s was a belter. People moan about some games finishing in three days but it’s entertaining cricket and it’s what people enjoy watching.”

He added: “Working with Leachy [Jack Leach] has been a game-changer for me.

“He’s taken the pressure off me, as you know that if you can hold your end things will happen at his end. We chat during every over and I ask for his advice as much as possible. 

Bess is from a sporting family – his father and uncles played rugby for Exeter Chiefs and Bath, while three of his cousins recently became the first trio of brothers to line up in the same Devon cricket team – and has his sights set on representing Somerset in all formats.

For now, however, he is keeping his feet on the ground.

“I try and stay grounded. You don’t know how long this will last and you never know what’s round the corner, so you have to enjoy every day," he said.

“I’m very lucky to be in the position I’m in. Like everyone says, playing cricket is not really a job – I love it.”