Sheffield Shield, 2020-21 – Mitchell Swepson emulating Shane Warne and challenging Nathan Lyon

Among the many things Covid-19 did to Australian cricket was finally provide an answer to questions about how state teams might perform if asked to depart from the formulas they have honed over generations of playing games on extremely familiar home ground pitches.

For some, it was not so well: deprived of Bellerive Oval’s seaming surface, for instance, Tasmania failed to win any of their four games in the Adelaide hub, and were twice defeated outright. But for Queensland, the move away from similarly helpful pitches for pace was revelatory, both in terms of the burgeoning talents of the wristspinner Mitchell Swepson and the way the Bulls figured out how to use him.

Put simply, Swepson has been the most dominant bowling force of the Sheffield Shield this season, despite playing just four matches. In two of those, against Tasmania and South Australia, he was the reason Queensland were able to emerge with victory on the final day on slow but deteriorating surfaces. In the other two, he took the Bulls to within a wicket of beating New South Wales, also in Adelaide, and last week after returning from a neck injury he was shaping as the Blues’ major threat on the final day before rain intervened.

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