Swann was widely written off before making his England Test debut in 2008, eight years after a solitary appearance in a one-day international in South Africa.
Desperate to make up for lost time, he took 255 Test wickets and won countless matches for his country over the next five years.
Contrast Swann’s slow-burning career with the lightning rise of Bess, who has gone from being unsure of a Somerset future at the age of 17 to the cusp of a Test debut before he has even celebrated his 21st birthday.
Little wonder his head was in a spin after the call from Ed Smith, England’s chairman of selectors, last Tuesday. And no surprise that he’ll be making a beeline for Swann in London in the next few days.
“Swann was the No1 man at the time and when I did bowl spin, I would watch him closely – he was obviously a quality Test spinner who could bat and field as well,” said Bess.
“Fingers crossed, as soon as I see him I’ll be straight over to him and pick his brains as much as I can.
“Those guys who have been there and done it, they’re the people I love to speak to because that’s how you learn and improve.
“That’s one big thing about the Somerset Academy, it’s always about listening and learning.
“Listening is a lot better than talking – you learn a lot more.”
Swann was hardly a quiet presence in the England side, on or off the field. Indeed, his propensity for being vocal was part of the reason he fell foul of former England coach, Duncan Fletcher, in the first place.
Some of his spells, though, spoke a thousand words and his fearless approach was one of the key reasons he became the cornerstone of England’s success between 2008 and 2013.
Bess appears keen on adopting the same approach to handling all the extra pressures that come with international cricket.
He added: “Social media these days creates so much pressure but personally, instead of thinking how much pressure there is on me, I prefer to think about what an opportunity this is for me.
“That’s my mindset. This is an unbelievable chance to showcase my skills and see where I’m at. The opportunity for me to make my Test debut and show the world what I can do is amazing. I don’t see it any other way.”
Bess’s ability with the bat and in the field may also have swayed the England selectors, with the need for players to deliver with the bat, the ball and in the field – which is a real focus for this side following last winter’s Ashes mauling.
Bess scored his maiden first class hundred for the MCC against Essex in the season’s opener and is now pressing his claim as a genuine all-rounder.
But it’s a measure of how far he has come that the original push to improve his batting was driven by a desire to nail down a starting place for Somerset rather than England.
“I’m still really trying to push for a regular spot in Somerset’s side,” he says.
“I spoke to Jason Kerr (Somerset’s head coach) in the winter and said I could have a chance of playing early season if I could score runs too. “The ethos we have at Somerset is that we try and do everything.”