Save articles for later
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
As the best one-day leg-spinner in the world and a key player in Sunday’s World Cup final against India, Adam Zampa is driven in part by the pain of never making it as a red-ball cricketer.
His 22 wickets in India beats the best haul Shane Warne ever managed at a World Cup. Zampa, 31, is ranked No.3 among the world’s leading one-day bowlers and equal seventh in T20 internationals. By contrast, he has a first-class bowling average of 47 and has played just two Sheffield Shield matches in the last four years.
A NSW junior from the Illawarra who grew up dreaming of wearing the baggy green, Zampa made his Shield debut for NSW as a 20-year-old, claiming 10 wickets in three games at an average of 24. The following season he moved to South Australia to make way for Australian spinner Nathan Lyon, who wanted to return home to NSW after working on the Adelaide Oval ground staff.
Over the next seven seasons, Zampa became an established member of Australia’s white-ball side, but his four-day game did not progress at the same rate. He claimed 95 wickets in 35 Shield games at an average of 51 before returning to the Blues in 2020.
“I definitely I feel like if I was to have to go and play a lot of four-day cricket now, the results would be much better,” said Zampa, played two four-day matches for NSW last season, claiming six wickets at an average of 25. “I played a couple of games last season and I felt much more in control of what I was doing. I could adapt to the game a lot better.”
But the baggy green dream has now faded. The mythology of Australia’s Test cap is a beacon for every hopeful young cricketer and without one you were not supposed to be the complete player.
“It was tough,” a reflective Zampa told this masthead heading into Sunday’s final at Ahmedabad, where Australia will be chasing a sixth World Cup title against the host nation, who are raging hot favourites.
No Australian spinner has taken more wickets at a World Cup than Adam Zampa.Credit: Getty
“I always felt like my bowling was going to get better, and I was going to develop as a four-day cricketer, but I had a rough time of it. Whether or not it helped me with my resilience, I’m not 100 per cent sure.
“But I look back on that time and think I was nowhere near the bowler that I am now. There will always be questions like, ‘Do you still want to play Test cricket? And then people will question that with, ‘Well his record’s shit, he doesn’t deserve it’.
“I look back and wish that I hadn’t maybe played as much four-day cricket as I was back then, but it’s all led to what I am now as a cricketer, so I can’t really judge it too harshly.”
The ultimate example is David Warner, who played his first game for Australia as a Twenty20 cricketer before his initial Sheffield Shield match for NSW. Yet, Warner made it clear from the outset that Test cricket was his goal and his priority.
“It was just a tough time, the first part of my first-class career, but even back then I was able to adapt straight into white-ball cricket,” Zampa said. “I was always better at T20, and as a white-ball bowler generally. My List A [one-day] stuff was always really good for South Australia, and even when I was younger with NSW. Naturally, I was just better at it.”
Zampa’s captain for much of his short form international career, Aaron Finch, was in a similar position, struggling to get a regular match in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield team during the early part of his journey before carving an imposing white-ball career as a devastating batsman and proactive captain.
Zampa believes his white-ball success is not only based on skills but stubbornness.
“I’ve always been the one to keep the receipts,” he said. “Like if someone thinks I’m not up for it, or someone says something about me that I disagree with, I’ll do whatever I can to try and prove them wrong.
“Then there is the stubbornness in wanting my spot and wanting to win games for Australia, naturally being really competitive and playing with pride. Pride in my performance and in playing for Australia and wanting to win games and win World Cups. There’s a will that’s been around for a long time.”
Zampa was Australia’s most important player in their inaugural T20 World Cup triumph in 2021 and is hoping to complete the same again on Sunday.
One of Zampa’s more relaxing pastimes may prove particularly beneficial in the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium, where peace of mind will be washed away by a cacophony from rapturous Indian fans willing their team to victory.
The pulsating wall of noise will be a far cry from the serenity of the Himalayas, where Zampa and his young family spent a few days earlier in the tournament breathing in the clear mountain air.
“It drives my wife mad, but I’ll do basically anything if it’s possible to get into a natural body of water,” said Zampa, highlighting yet again that wrist spinners are different. “Whether it’s the ocean, whether it’s like right up there [in the mountains] and it’s a freezing-cold river, I’ll base my whole day around trying to get into freezing cold water.
“It’s a Zen kind of moment. You go into say the cold ocean for swim and you get out and you’re like, ‘I really feel refreshed.’ It’s the best feeling, but trying to get that in India, it can be really hard.”
Zampa, Josh Inglis and Sean Abbott stayed on in Dharamshala with their families after the New Zealand match instead of going to Ahmedabad to play in a squad golf tournament with 20 players and staff.
“The thought of spending time in Dharamshala in the hills and that Tibetan style of life was really nice,” Zampa said. “I had the family with me and we were staying up in the hills with a view of the Himalayas; it was an easy choice to want to spend a bit more time out there.
“And it was much-needed at the time because it’s been a long tour. It was great to have a few days just to unwind and decompress.”
There has been little time to unwind and decompress flipping from Australia’s tense three-wicket semi-final victory over South Africa on Thursday to Sunday’s final.
And Zampa has much to think about following a rare hiccup during an otherwise brilliant World Cup, failing to take a wicket in the semi-final while conceding eight an over. The only other side he failed to take a wicket against was Sunday’s opponents India in the opening match.
Zampa was the tournament leader with 22 wickets until Mohammed Shami snuck past him with a seven-wicket haul in last Wednesday’s semi-final against New Zealand.
Those are Warne-esque areas. The best haul the King had at a World Cup was 20 in 1999, while Zampa broke Brad Hogg’s Australian record of 21 from the 2007 tournament.
One more wicket on Sunday and he will equal Muttiah Muralidaran’s all-time spinners’ record of 23 for a World Cup, also set in 2007, but he is hoping for many more.
Watch the World Cup final live and free on Nine, 9Gem and 9Now.
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article