WORLD CUP 2019
“We speak a lot in the nets, we speak a lot in the field, just about whatever – anything – spin bowling, field settings or how the ball’s going to come out.” – Adam Zampa © Getty
Australian legspinner Adam Zampa, who managed to revive his ODI career recently, is now an integral part of his side’s World Cup defence. Overlooked for last year’s humbling ODI series loss in England, Zampa’s returns in India and UAE earlier in the year stamped his spot as the frontline spinner for Australia, alongside Nathan Lyon, with the duo expected to play an important role in the middle overs on the smaller grounds in England.
With license to go for wickets from skipper Aaron Finch, it is likely that Zampa may concede more runs than hoped on wickets in England majorly favouring the batsmen, but the legspinner’s focus remains on the breakthroughs that will assist the pacers late in the innings.
“That is something we have spoken about, and Finchy is big on – trying to take wickets. If you are bowling to the middle and lower order in the last 10 overs it makes it so much easier for the fast bowlers at the ‘death’,” Zampa said on Monday (May 20). “If you are bowling to in-batsmen like Virat (Kohli) or Jos Buttler for example, if they are in it makes it a lot harder, so wickets in the middle is so important in one-day cricket.”
Under head coach Justin Langer’s supervision, Australia’s gameplan has not only meandered towards breakthroughs in the middle, but much of the work has also been directed towards their batsmen tackling spin better given their significant rise in the last few years. By avoiding stagnation and keeping the scoreboard ticking with rotation of strike, a little cautious play in the middle and preservation of wickets will give their finishers the freedom to accelerate and finish strongly.
“The last three or four years, you have probably seen the game change a bit. The spinners have come into the game a lot more,” Zampa said. “That was something we struggled with, playing against spin. Probably 18 months ago, 12 months ago, it’s something that we rectified really well in India and in Dubai against Pakistan.”
Zampa, in the ODI series in India, claimed 11 wickets at 25.81 in five matches, and picked seven wickets at 37.28 against Pakistan in the UAE, but believes it is his partnership with Lyon that could cause opponents trouble if Australia play their spin twins on wickets that are dry in England, with their contrasting roles.
“We play two different roles, he (Lyon) is so accurate, a beautiful offspinner, bowls to his field really well and bowls really tight, that means I can attack from the other end,” Zampa said. “I think it was a few months ago where we actually spoke to each other and said, ‘I reckon we can play a huge role coming up in the World Cup together so let’s do everything we can to make sure we’re both there’,” he said.
“So we’ve communicated really well over the last few months. We speak a lot in the nets, we speak a lot in the field, just about whatever – anything – spin bowling, field settings or how the ball’s going to come out. Just anything. I think it’s going to play a huge role for us sometime throughout the World Cup. I don’t know if it will be every game but I definitely see us playing a huge role together,” he added, looking to put his experience of having played for Essex to good use.
Australia will play warm-up games against West Indies, England and Sri Lanka before their tournament opener against Afghanistan in Bristol, where they will face the threat of Rashid Khan, who Zampa describes as “a once in a lifetime bowler”.
Zampa had bowled with Rashid Khan during the Big Bash League after having approaching the legspinner for a masterclass, fascinated with how quick Rashid’s run-up was and how he held the ball.
“He is just a totally different bowler. The reason that he runs in so fast is because he has got really thick fingers and holds the ball right at the end. For example, I bowl it right in my palm, he bowls it right at the end,” Zampa said. “To his credit he spent about 45 minutes with me,” continued Zampa. “I had (Stars list manager) Trent Woodhill with me and Stoinis actually came over and was interested.
“I am so glad I did that because I now know I could never bowl like Rashid. But having that information now means I can give it to our batters. Rashid Khan is a once in a lifetime bowler.”