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News

Swepson on red-ball ambitions: 'I've had one eye on the India tour for a while'

Legspinner hasn't taken over Test cricket by storm but is waiting in the wings trying to do his best for Queensland and Brisbane Heat

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
22-Aug-2022
Mitchell Swepson played four Tests in Pakistan and Sri Lanka earlier this year  •  AFP

Mitchell Swepson played four Tests in Pakistan and Sri Lanka earlier this year  •  AFP

Mitchell Swepson knows he will probably have to bide his time over the next few months for another chance at Test cricket, but admitted he has long had "one eye" on Australia's tour to India in early 2023.
Swepson, who had served a long period as a Covid-19 reserve and drinks carrier, played four of the five away Tests against Pakistan and Sri Lanka earlier this year. He was handed his debut in the 2nd Test against Pakistan in Karachi, after Australia had gone with three frontline quicks in the opening match.
An end result of ten wickets at 45.80 does not leap off the page as an overriding success, but there were enough signs that Swepson has the chance to forge more than a fleeting Test career - although conditions in Australia won't aid him in adding to his tally on home soil.
Nathan Lyon, who partnered Swepson in those four matches, is currently on a run of 88 unbroken Tests and Australia are unlikely to field two frontline spinners in a home game despite the annual tradition of it being debated when the Sydney Test rolls around in January.
"I've had one eye on it [the India tour] for a while, so I'd be lying if I told you I didn't," Swepson told ESPNcricinfo at the launch of the BBL draft. "It's certainly a massive tour for Australian cricket. India in India is the final frontier as some people would say, so it will be massive series and the way the World Test Championship is, just adds that extra element.
"But in saying that there's also a massive summer here to go first and the boys have got to do well there. I'll be ready to go [for the home series] if required, but chances are probably pretty slim, so I'll just be waiting in the wings and trying to do my best for Queensland and Brisbane Heat."
Swepson is unlikely to be part of the squad for the T20 World Cup in October and November - he was part of the 15 for the previous event in the UAE, but Australian conditions won't demand another frontliner alongside Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar - which should mean a clear run of Sheffield Shield cricket ahead of the BBL season. However, there won't be a chance to return to red-ball cricket before the India tour with that trip due to start in early February but he should, at least, be playing cricket rather than sitting and watching.
Depending on who Heat sign in the BBL draft - they have a retention option for Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman - Swepson could be their premier spinner and create a pairing with Matt Kuhnemann who made his ODI debut in Sri Lanka having only played five games last season.
"I can't wait for just a full season of cricket," he said. "It's been great to be able to travel around with the Australian team, but now getting back to normal, being able to fly in and out, I'm really looking forward to getting back to playing for my state and Brisbane as well."
Reflecting on his experiences of the last few months, Swepson spoke of his partnership with Lyon as one of the highlights, the duo firstly trying to combat the docile surfaces in Pakistan, then offered a raging turner in the first Test in Galle before something more even in the second Test, where Sri Lanka came out on top to level the series.
"I might be a bit biased here, but I love seeing offspin and legspin work in tandem," he said. "I think it's really cool and you don't really see it much, especially not in Test cricket. So I really loved bowling with Gaz, he's a great fella, he's done so much for the game in Australia, so to be able to learn off him and see how he goes about it, bounce ideas off him, it's made me a better bowler, and hopefully, I can get the chance to do it a lot more often.
"I'd dreamed as a youngster about playing Test cricket for Australia and getting a baggy green, and now that's happened it's been awesome to look back on, share it with my friends and family. But it's also meant I've bowled some overs in a period of the season where I usually wouldn't so that Sri Lanka tour was really good for me to bowl a lot of balls and work on some things. Now I've had some time at home and I'm ready to just hit the ground running, and I'm just really excited to just get a full season in."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo