Why Swepson has re-emerged at head of spin queue
QUEENSLAND leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is back in the spotlight after being rewarded for his consistent form with selection in Australia's squad for the SCG Test against New Zealand.
The 26-year-old has tasted national selection just once - a T20 game in England in 2018 - but has been talked about as a potential Test player for quite some time.
With Australia searching high and low for a reliable Test back-up, or complement, to Nathan Lyon, now could be Swepson's time to shine.
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Did you get a better Christmas present than your gift of being called into the Test squad?
There wasn't much better than that. I was a little bit surprised but also excited. I was going OK in Shield cricket and I thought I might have been a chance, but I didn't really think that it would come, so I was over the moon to be given this opportunity.
It's great to know the selectors have been watching the way I've been bowling this year, and that they like what I'm doing at the moment.
You still don't know whether you will play in the Sydney Test, so what is your mindset going into this week?
There are no guarantees that I'm playing, but it's just about preparing to play, and hoping for the best.
The guys are doing really well at the moment and they're winning games. It's going to be hard to get into that team when they're doing so well, so I can't think about that too much.
I'll leave that up to the selectors, but for me it's about preparing and planning for a game of cricket like I usually do.
In 2017 you toured India and Bangladesh but didn't play a Test, and then fell off the selection radar until now. What was the reason for the fall?
A couple of years ago, being only 23-24 years old, I was picked more on potential, and given an experience to soak up what I could learn as a young cricketer.
But as you get older it's more about putting performances on the board.
There was a patch last year where I wasn't really bowling at my best. I wasn't doing as well as I would have liked.
The selectors have asked for performances. I put it upon myself to change my bowling and become a more consistent bowler.
I've been a bit better this year, being more consistent in landing the ball, and sure enough the results have been there.
I've been taking wickets and not going for many runs.
That's the reason for the call up this time. I've earnt it through bowling a little bit more consistently.
Were you pleased to receive support this month from current Test spinner Nathan Lyon in your own bid to play Test cricket?
It's great to get praise from Gaz. He's doing really well at the moment.
He's a world-class spinner, and one of the things I'm looking forward to the most is working with him and picking his brain a bit about playing Test match cricket for Australia, because he's done a lot of it.
How does it feel knowing that spin king Shane Warne has been a long-time supporter of yours?
It's always great to get praise from Warnie. He's thrown my name up there a couple of times, which is always great.
I keep in contact with him, just a message here and there, and he's helped my bowling in the past.
Was Warne's success the reason you became a leg-spinner as a junior?
Leg-spin was more something I fell into.
I was one of those kids who tried to do everything that involved a ball.
I loved sport in general. I used to bowl three balls pace and three balls leg-spin in juniors.
I went to the Met North trials and they preferred my leg-spin over the quick stuff because there weren't any spinners at the trials.
That's when I ended up sticking with the leg-spin. I never looked back.
But obviously Warnie had an impact on all young cricketers because he was such a prolific wicket-taker for Australia.
Every time I watched the cricket on TV he was always taking wickets. He would have had an impact subconsciously.
Your good mate and fellow Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne is not only scoring runs but also improving as leg-spinner. Do you give him a few tips?
Marnie's worked really hard on his leg-spin. I've played a lot of cricket with Marnus, and it's been really good to see him improve on his bowling this year.
He went about changing the way he tried to bowl, and became more consistent. Rather than try to over-attack and take a wicket every ball, he tried to not go for too many runs, which has made him a more consistent leggie, which is great.
Whenever we have net sessions together, we always talk about bowling. As you've seen, he's a cricket nuffie. He'll talk about cricket all day.
And what have you made of his sensational batting form?
It's unreal. It's great to see a guy go away and word hard on his game and almost re-invent himself as a different player. It's great to see when hard work pays off and it certainly is for him at the moment.