Swepson to finally make his debut in second Test

Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson will make his long-awaited Test debut against Pakistan on Saturday, with skipper Pat Cummins confirming Australia’s XI for the second Test of the three-match series.

With the surface in Karachi expected to aid spin, Cummins confirmed Swepson will play his first Test match, with fast bowler Josh Hazlewood the man to miss out.

Swepson first toured with Australia’s Test side five years ago and has consistently been Nathan Lyon’s spin deputy in the past few years, but has not been able to make the final XI.

The Queenslander will be the first frontline leg-spinner to debut in Tests for Australia’s men’s team since Bryce McGain in 2009.

“He’s pumped and to be honest, we’re all pumped for ‘Swepo’,” Cummins said.

“It’s been a long time running drinks over the last couple of years, but he’s absolutely ready.

“He’s been a huge part of the squad, even though he hasn’t been playing. So we’re really excited to see him get a chance.

“The wicket here is a little bit drier and historically a bit friendlier for the spinners.”

The drought-breaking inclusion of a leg-spinner comes less than a week after the man many consider the greatest slow bowler of all time, Shane Warne, died suddenly in Thailand.

The spin legend mentored Swepson at various points through his career, passing on tactical and technical tips, perhaps most notably during the 2017-18 summer when Warne advised him to slow his approach to the crease.

Swepson a ‘huge chance’ as series shifts to Karachi, Lahore

“Never got to properly thank this man for his influence on my cricket career,” Swepson posted in a social media tribute following Warne’s death on Friday. “He has made me push myself day in and day out without ever knowing it. Truly the greatest cricketer I’ve ever seen play the game.”

Australia trialled a handful of wrist-spinners in the aftermath of Warne’s Test retirement in 2007 but, until off-spinner Lyon’s emergence, struggled to come to terms with the gaping hole left by arguably cricket’s greatest bowler.

Stuart MacGill played just four of his 44 Tests after Warne hung up the boots before injuries curtailed his career, while Brad Hogg (three post-Warne Tests) Beau Casson (one Test in 2008 against West Indies) and McGain (one in 2009) were all tried and discarded.

Cameron White (four Tests on Australia’s 2008 tour of India) and Steve Smith (who batted at eight and nine when he played his first two Tests in 2010) were even trialled as nominal ‘bowling allrounders’.

But Australia have not fielded a specialist wrist-spinner in a Test since McGain’s debut against South Africa 13 years ago that saw him taken apart for 0-149 in 18 overs.

More than half the wickets in last year’s Karachi Test between Pakistan and South Africa were taken by spin with another Warne favorite, leggie Yasir Shah, claiming seven for the match.

Cummins indicated he expects reverse swing to play a role over the five days of the Test, which may explain to decision to pick Mitchell Starc ahead of Hazlewood.

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson

Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood.

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc , Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. On standby: Sean Abbott, Brendan Doggett, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Renshaw

First Test: Match drawn

March 12-16: Second Test, Karachi

March 21-25: Third Test, Lahore

Australia ODI and T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi

March 31: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi

April 5: Only T20I, Rawalpindi

All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

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