“Without their best batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith and key fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the Aussies have witnessed some significant contributions from their young players like Zampa, which is major good news with the World Cup just around the corner”
A 22-year-old blonde-haired Adam Zampa made his first appearance for Australia in 2016. Even before his debut, he was the talk of the town because his action and runup resembled his legendary countryman Shane Warne.
Later in the year, no Australian took more wickets than Zampa at the ICC World T20 where the Aussies were eliminated after losing the quarter-final to hosts India. The youngster bagged five wickets at an economy of 6.27. That earned him an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract with then Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS).
Zampa became a popular among wrist spinners as he claimed IPL’s second-best figures – 6 for 19 – in a losing cause against eventual champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad. While he delivered in the IPL, Big Bash League and other domestic tournaments in Australia, he just did not manage to become a regular member of the national team.
In 2017, when Australia toured India for the limited-overs series, Zampa was again not a constant in the side. While he played all the T20I matches, he played only three ODIs out of the five games. In the first ODI in Chennai, Zampa went for 66 runs in his quota of 10 overs. Hardik Pandya smashed the leg spinner for three consecutive sixes before Zampa got the better of him but it was too late by then as Hardik had done the damage with his knock of 83 from 66 balls.
Later on, Hardik said, “I knew that I could hit a six off him anytime I wanted to.”
Zampa was dropped in the next two games before he returned for the final two ODIs. Even though he bagged three wickets, he was once again expensive. From there on, either Zampa was not picked for a series or he was given very few games in a series.
Two years later, Zampa has now sealed a permanent slot in the Australian ODI side. Not just that, he is being considered as the key man for the defending champions in the upcoming Cricket World Cup in England.
The just ended tour of India will always be remembered as a breakthrough series for a young promising spinner – Zampa – who stood like a rock between India and yet another limited-overs series victory. The results have shown how well he has worked on his line, lengths and variations that allowed him to dominate over the world-class batsman like Virat Kohli.
In the two-match T20I series, although he bagged just one scalp, he ensured he made the run-flow difficult for the hosts. He bowled a total of seven overs in the two games and he leaked just 45 runs. When the pacers like Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, and Pat Cummins were making breakthroughs from one end, Zampa’s economical spells made up for the runs his teammates had leaked.
In the first T20I in Vishkapatnam, it was one of those days when Captain Kohli was off to another good start. He was charging against the likes of Coulter-Nile and Behrendorff and it was Zampa who bagged the golden wicket. The Aussie leg spinner bowled a short ball that tossed up, Kohli came down the track but could not connect it well as he was caught by Coulter-Nile at long-on.
Zampa acknowledged his IPL experience for his comeback this series. “From the IPL experience and seeing these guys play – nothing like in my variety of wrong’uns – it’s about the best way to bowl to these batsmen.
Particularly in ODI cricket, most legspinners are attacking the stumps and that’s my strength too. I feel like when I get away from the stumps, guys like Virat and the other night [Kedar] Jadhav [hit me]. I got frustrated and bowled wide of the stumps and that is when the damage happens. It’s about staying away from their strengths,” Zampa said.
By the time the T20I and ODI series ended between India and Australia, the touring side had a new Zampa, who turned out to be the difference between the two sides. Zampa, who out-thought the Indian batsmen, finished as the second highest wicket-taker in the series, behind Cummins, as he bagged 11 wickets in three matches – his most in an ODI series.
Zampa’s emergence as Australia’s first-choice spinner did justice to the faith the team management and coach Justin Langer has shown in him in recent times. They knew it was just a matter of time when Zampa would play to his potential.
The 26-year-old spinner revealed that he was “low in confidence” when he visited India two years back for the limited-overs series. But, this time, India faced a more mature and better learner of the game Zampa. He has learned how to move on from a bad performance and focus on the next. Maybe that’s why he managed to dismiss Kohli three times this series and overall five times (twice in T20Is and thrice in ODIs) and prior to this series, Zampa had never dismissed a batsman more than twice.
Zampa clearly played a major role in Australia’s fighting back after trailing in the ODI series. From 0-2 down to winning the series 3-2 against favourites India at their den, it was a massive moment for the Australians, who have had a horrendous time this season, that began in South Africa last March with the ball-tampering scandal.
Without their best batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith and key fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the Aussies have witnessed some significant contributions from their young players like Zampa, which is major good news with the World Cup just around the corner.