DOM Bess said he felt it was "time to pull my finger out" before he took five wickets on the third day of the third Test against South Africa.
The Sidmouth, Somerset and Devon off-spinner claimed 5-51 to help reduce the home side to 208-6, 291 runs adrift of the tourists.
"Contributing is key for me, knowing my worth in the side," he told the Test Match Special podcast.
"It's a weight off the shoulders to know the lads know I can do it - [that] I'm able to hold that role."
Bess was not in the original tour party but was called up after illness hit the England squad before and during the first Test.
The 22-year-old impressed enough in the nets to become first choice and responded by becoming the youngest England spinner to take five wickets in a Test innings since 1968.
He joins a growing list of young players to have impressed in South Africa.
Both Dom Sibley, 24, and 22-year-old Ollie Pope have made their maiden Test centuries.
"I was thinking it's my turn," added Bess. "It's nice to know that I'm not just a replacement.
"Since I walked into the dressing room, the lads have been perfect. That's another key factor in why the youngsters are doing so well, because we feel some comfortable in that environment."
Bess played two Tests for England in 2018, but since then the Somerset man has had to spent time on loan at Yorkshire in order to play first-team cricket.
At the end of last season, he was granted a break from the game by his county, then attended an England spin-bowling camp in India, where he was coached by former Sri Lanka international Rangana Herath.
"I've done a lot," said Bess, speaking of his time away from the Test side. "I've had a lot of conversations with Somerset and the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).
"The big thing was to get my confidence back, building strength in my action. All those days where you work as hard as you can contribute to days like this."