Swepson 'starting to become the full package' with 'unbelievable consistency'
Queensland wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson talks about Swepson's development as he's set for a Test debut in Karachi
Few people have had a better view of Mitchell Swepson's development over the last few seasons than Queensland wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson.
Peirson, who also captains Queensland when Usman Khawaja is away on Australia duty, is certain that Swepson is ready for the Test debut that will now come his way in Karachi on Saturday. After a week where the game has mourned the death of the greatest legspinner of them all, Shane Warne, it will be poignant when Swepson becomes cap No. 464.
He will be just the second specialist legspinner to debut for Australia's men's Test team since Warne's retirement, after Bryce McGain's one-off appearance in 2009, having first toured with Australia on the 2017 trip to India.
"I've kept to him a long time and when he was younger he'd probably give you two or three bad balls an over, but as he's gone on, and particularly the last two seasons, you just don't get bad balls from him very often," Peirson told ESPNcricinfo. "It's unbelievable consistency and he's bowling all his variations and landing them exactly where he wants to. You pair that up with his cricket knowledge, how he's understanding his game and how to play certain scenarios, and I think he's starting to become the full package."
Swepson enjoyed a breakout season in 2020-21 when he claimed 32 wickets at 23.40 in five Sheffield Shield matches to help Queensland to the title. This summer was tougher with just a single wicket from the two Shield matches he was able to play while being part of the T20 World Cup and Ashes squads - he only bowled two overs against New South Wales - alongside claiming four wickets for Australia A against England Lions in December.
But it was the three matches in the Adelaide-based hub at the start of last season, where Swepson claimed 23 wickets and twice bowled Queensland to final-day victories and almost another against New South Wales, that gave an indication of the bowler he had developed into.
"At the Gabba he probably doesn't get the spin he would usually get, he gets the bounce which is also his friend, but playing a lot more games down south, and on day three, day four wickets which have started to deteriorate he's come into his own," Peirson said. "It's fantastic to see that, knowing that if he does get the conditions then he'll be really dangerous for Australia."
Swepson's economy rate of under three an over is also eye-catching but Peirson always sees him as a wicket-taking option although Pat Cummins did note how he believed Swepson would be able to do a holding role.
"First and foremost, Swepo is your attacking option, that's why you are playing a legspinner," Peirson said. "He's not like a fingerspinner, he's not holding as the quicks attack from one end, he's coming on to take wickets. That's how we've used him in Queensland and I think how he will be used moving forward in most teams he plays for. When he's attacking, setting good fields and the ball is spinning, the scoreboard will naturally stop because he's bowling so consistently.
Having a frontline legspinner as part of a twin-spin attack will be another new chapter in Cummins' young captaincy career as well, but Peirson has seen enough of Swepson to know he can also look after himself in the middle. He and Cummins will also have the benefit of Khawaja at close quarters.
"That's why he's such a lovely spinner to have in the team because he knows what he wants to do," he said. "He's right at the top of his game in that sense with his skills and how he mentally approaches the game with his tactics. He's someone who is a pleasure to captain and keep to because he knows what he needs to do.
"Sure we can come up with ideas with him, but he has a very clear idea of how he wants to start his spell and that's really refreshing as a captain. Then you can work together as the day goes on. He's a forward-thinking spinner. He's been around Nathan Lyon for a long time and has learnt so much."
"It will be a new one for Pat to work out how to best use those guys. We've played two spinners before for Queensland and Uzzie was captain so he certainly has the knowledge of how he used Swepo and he's someone Pat can lean on. I'm intrigued as a viewer to see how they use him."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo