Mitch Swepson facing battle for India tour spot

Mitch Swepson believes his Test experience on the sub-continent gives him the “upper hand” in the spinners’ selection battle for Australia’s tour of India next year.

The Queensland leg-spinner is under pressure from the likes of Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar and potential bolter Todd Murphy to play alongside Australia’s spin king, Nathan Lyon, in the four-Test series against India starting in February.

White-ball specialist Zampa’s return last week to the Sheffield Shield arena for the first time since 2019 should be of particular concern to Swepson, with his fellow leg-spinner tipped to push hard for a Test debut.

However, Swepson says he is ready for the selection challenge after taking 10 wickets at an average of 45.80 in four Tests against Pakistan and Sri Lanka,

Having toiled on flat tracks in Pakistan, where he took just two wickets in two Tests, the 29-year-old tweaker bowled better on the spin-friendlier pitches in Sri Lanka, where he took eight wickets in the two-Test series.

“One thing that I’ve probably got a little bit of an upper hand on is that I’ve now played four Test matches and that experience coming out of both Pakistan and Sri Lanka will probably hold me in good stead in that selection conversation (for the tour of India),” Swepson said.

“They (the national selectors) were pretty happy with how I bowled in Sri Lanka … so just drawing on that, I’m quietly confident that I’d be in the conversation, at least.

“I certainly want to be a part of that tour (to India) – there’s no doubt about that.”

Swepson has been impressed with Zampa’s form, saying it’s anything but a shock he’s in Test contention.

“He’s someone who has identified parts of his game he needed to work on and gone away and worked at it and you can see why he’s battling so well now,” Swepson said of his spin rival.

“His consistency is the big one that he’s worked on, and at the moment, it looks like he’s got them on a string.

“I’m not surprised he’s in the conversation when he’s playing a high level of cricket and doing so well.

“He looks like he’s bowling over the top of the ball a lot more, which is probably something he never used to do. He used to bowl a bit flatter and out the front of the hand, but he’s actually bowling good overspin, and that’s something he’s really added to his game and it seems to be working really well for him.”

Swepson admitted he would have liked the chance to bowl for what was supposed to be an Australia A side against South Africa in a tour match starting on Friday at Allan Border Field.

However, the game was changed from a first-class fixture to a practice match, leading to a Cricket Australia XI squad made up largely of emerging youngsters instead playing against the tourists.

“I was pencilled in to play (for Australia A). That would have been an opportunity for me to show them (the selectors) how I’m bowling and against a higher-quality opposition,” Swepson said.

Instead, he has switched his attention to Brisbane Heat’s upcoming BBL campaign, which starts on Thursday week against the Renegades in Cairns.

“I’ve got all the confidence in my skill, and my game, that I’d like to be able to push up against some of the best in the world, and he (Zampa) is certainly up there with one of the best spinners in white-ball cricket in the world at the moment,” Swepson said.

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