Having denied Australia a victory at the Gabba, India travelled to Adelaide with confidence for the second Test match of the Border-Gavaskar series.
Three years ago, a young Queensland leg-spinner by the name of Mitchell Swepson was being hailed as the next big thing in Australian cricket.
Shane Warne, Australia’s greatest bowler in its rich cricketing history, has been Swepson’s biggest fan. From day one. Back in 2016, all it took was two balls on debut for the Brisbane Heat for the legendary leggie to voice his support for the then 22-year-old.
“Nice energy through the crease and gives it a rip…let’s keep an eye on this guy,” Warne tweeted during Swepson’s inaugural BBL match at the Gabba’ against the Sydney Sixers in BBL|05.
This tweet alone was enough to capture the hearts and minds of cricket fans across Australia, daring to dream whether this debutant could possibly become anything, anything in the mould of his greatest advocate.
However, this match, Swepson’s first under lights, was only the very beginning of what many hoped would be a long and illustrious representative career. But it was still enough to get people frothing over the idea.
That’s because there is something of a novelty about a leg-spinner. The greater variation they can extract with the wrong’un, top spinner and flipper adds to the appeal. Warne and more recently Nathan Lyon (albeit an off-spinner), have mastered throughout their careers on Australian pitches, the skill of using the extra bounce on offer.
It is these skills that, barely a year after his Big Bash debut, paved the way for his maiden Australian call-up for their Test tour of India.
Australian selector Trevor Hohns reasoned for his inclusion that “[Swepson] is an exciting young legspinner, [who] gives the ball a very good rip.”
And even though he didn’t play a game on this tour, it seemed reasonable to believe that Swepson had the world at his feet.
Fast-forward two-and-a-half years and some would argue that Swepson’s career has stagnated. Since returning from India, he’d played just a lone Twenty20 game for his country, returning a serviceable 2/37 in England mid-2018. Other than this performance, Swepson’s figures for the Bulls in both first-class and list-A cricket, as well as his performances for the Heat in the BBL, resembled nothing more than a domestic cricketer at best, and certainly nowhere near the role he was seemingly being groomed to play in national colours.
Now entering what should be the prime of his career, over the past year Swepson has found himself somewhat out-of-favour with Queensland selectors. Not only has he been forced to bide his time in the second XI to force his way back into the first-class setup, but he has also failed to represent his state in the one-day format so far this season, with left-armer Matt Kuhnemann being preferred.
Many over the past few months have pondered what is next for the 26-year-old, undoubtedly talented enough but yet to find that missing ingredient that will yield the success he dreams of.
However, over the past couple of weeks, it seems Swepson has potentially rekindled the passion and drive for the game again, as he has not only forced his way back into Shield cricket but impressed.
In just his second game for the season, he spun a web through the Victorian batsmen, taking 4/75 in the first innings and powering the Bulls to an unlikely victory thanks to his 3/17 in the second. Swepson was the bowler to dramatically take the final Victorian wicket with just eight balls remaining in the match, and the passion with which he celebrated, suggested that maybe, just maybe, success is on the horizon.
Perhaps the upcoming 2019-20 summer will be the one where Swepson announces himself on the big stage. And with the T20 World Cup on home soil next year, it’s the perfect time to do so.
First, he’ll need to dethrone Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar as the country’s best limited-overs spinner. Or should it be first-class cricket he makes his name in, forming a dynamic partnership with Nathan Lyon?
Either way, it’ll take some hard work, luck and perseverance. But if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from his relatively short career thus far, it’s that Swepson will give himself the best chance to take the next step.
If he is to do so, there’s no doubt every cricket fan in the country will right behind him, spurring him on in his every step along the way.
I’m backing him in, and I’ve got a feeling this summer will be the time for him to shine.