Leg-spinner Swepson keen on turning heads

The selectors are expected to name the squad for the Test series against Pakistan after this unofficial four-day game, and Swepson would like to make a mark.

Mitchell Swepson made his Australia debut in June this year in a T20I against England.   -  Getty Images

Leg-spinners are a rare breed. So, when one turns up, he stands out for the sheer rarity of his art. But these spinners walk a tight-rope  — they are either very hard to pick or profligate.

And if you're an Australian wrist-spinner touring India, the 'Shane Warne' comparison is never too far off. The maverick Warne made leg-spin bowling fashionable again, but enjoyed little success (34 wickets at 43.11) in a country renowned for spin bowlers and also batsmen playing spin well.

On Friday, as members of the Australia-A team hit the nets at the Alur grounds, Mitchell Swepson, a leg-spinner rated highly by Warne, bowled for nearly 30 minutes. He beat the bat a few times and nearly snaffled a rather difficult return catch.

Swepson had watched from the bench as his spin counterpart, Jon Holland, powered the visitor to victory at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium. But ahead of the second unofficial Test here, the 24-year-old is in the thick of the action.

Read: Aussies eye to take series as host looks to rebuild

"For now, I'm really excited about the four-day game, can't wait for it to start. To be honest, it was hard watching the guys play from the sidelines!," Swepson tells Sportstar.

Swepson was called into Australia's Test squad for the tour of India in early 2017, and although he didn't play a match, the experience, he says, has made him wiser. "Just getting more games under my belt has definitely helped. A year has passed since the 2017 tour to India and I've played a full first-class season back home — a lot of T20s, too," he points out.

Swepson only had less than two full seasons of Sheffield Shield under his belt when he got his international call-up. Making his debut for Queensland in 2015-16, Swepson snapped up 17 wickets at 37.94 from six games.

He was fast-tracked into the Australia A side for three first-class games against India and South Africa A teams in 2016.  His four for 31 in South Africa's second innings and seven wickets in the match had helped Australia A beat South Africa A by 10 wickets and clinch a series sweep on home soil.

It was around then that Cricket Australia had appointed former India player Sridharan Sriram as a spin consultant. The Aussie spin pack of Nathan Lyon, Stephen O’ Keefee, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson have been working with Sriram since. And Sriram is also a part of Australia A's support staff for the ongoing four-day matches.

Sriram's role

"Oh! I've learnt a lot of things from Sri (laughs)," Swepson says. "I'll be here all day talking about the things we've worked on. He's been great for the tactical side of the game when coming into these conditions, obviously, we don't get wickets like these back home.

"So, having a guy who knows what it's like over here helps. I've picked his brain a lot. Having worked with him for so long, he has noticed a lot of things in my action that I'm not doing right - like asking me to throw my front arm up a bit higher or using the crease a bit more," he explains.

Also read: Exorcising spin demon key to Australia's fresh beginning

The Queensland Bulls' leg-spinner spoke about the time he spent at the National Cricket Centre (NCC) in Brisbane, where Cricket Australia has imported Indian soil to help its players overcome frailties against spin. "We're very lucky in Brisbane where we get to bowl a lot on this ' sub-continent' like wicket," he says before adding, "But if you don't get enough time on that, then it's just banking on past experiences. I've been to India a few times now, so recapping the previous outings comes in handy."

Swepson made his Australia debut in June this year in a T20I against England where he returned figures of two for 37. And with the selectors expected to name the squad for the Test series against Pakistan immediately after the conclusion of the last unofficial four-day game, the next overs Swepson bowls will be his most important ones.