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AUSTRALIA V INDIA TESTS

Zampa presses his case for India ticket

09 January 2017

Adam Zampa continues to impress in the Big Bash, but does that earn him a spot in India // Getty

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An atypical leg-spinner, Adam Zampa is generating plenty of debate as Australia ponders an attack for the India tour

About the Writer:
 @samuelfez

Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

The subcontinent has been a graveyard for visiting leg-spinners but Adam Zampa isn't your typical leggie.

As speculation grows by the day as to how many spinners, and who, Australia's selectors will take to India for the four-Test series starting on February 23 in Pune, Zampa believes he has the game to thrive in India where so many of his leg-break brethren have battled.

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You see Zampa is not your typical right-arm wrist-spinner who relies on flight, drift and a booming leg-break to deceive his opponent and capture their wicket.

Shane Warne, Test cricket's greatest leg-spinner with 708 victims, found the going tough in India where he averaged 43 and struck every 81 balls, figures that are significantly higher than his impeccable career record.

Shane Warne's top 10 moments

Warne's ripping leg-break, mesmerising drift and slower delivery speed brought him countless wickets around the world but not in the subcontinent, where the pitches offer little bounce and next to no speed off the wicket.

Anything pitched slightly short and the local batsmen have more than enough time to rock back and put the ball wherever they like, most often to the boundary.

That's why finger spinners have had so much success in India, bowlers who fire the ball in towards the stumps at high pace and spin the ball just enough to beat the bat.

A look at last year's England tour of the subcontinent sees Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – two elite finger spinners – at the top of the wicket-takers tally.

Zampa puts the Renegades in a spin

Zampa, however, is more a hybrid of the two spin styles, and could have the right blend to be Australia's trump card in India.

While he doesn't possess a leg-break that turns square, the 24-year-old does bowl quicker through the air, gets enough purchase to spin the ball either way and attacks the stumps trying to trap or castle his rival.

It's the same modus operandi that worked incredibly successfully for India Test legend Anil Kumble, who was by definition a leg-spinner but in reality was more a tall medium pacer with a rubber wrist.

Kumble's ability to bowl high-speed leg-spin with a brilliant googly yielded 619 Test wickets, 350 of those coming at home in just 63 matches, and former Australia batsman Mike Hussey says Zampa and the India great have a lot in common.

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"Kumble was a lot taller but not a big turner of the ball and had a lot of success bowling in that manner," Hussey told cricket.com.au.

"Kumble is a legend of the game so it's a bit premature to compare the two, but the style of bowling is certainly very similar so you can make some comparisons there."

Zampa is no stranger to India having starred for Australia in the ICC World T20 last March before completing a successful stint in the Indian Premier League alongside captain Steve Smith at new franchise Rising Pune Supergiants.

The leggie was a hit in the IPL, capturing a remarkable 6-19 against David Warner's Sunrisers Hyderabad – the eventual winners of the lucrative T20 tournament.

Zampa's star rises with record-breaking IPL spell

The following winter, Zampa toured Sri Lanka with the national limited-overs side, playing five ODIs and taking nine wickets at 21 by zeroing in the woodwork and bowling his subtle variations.

"I've been over there a few times, learnt what lines and lengths you've got to bowl, and it's the way Indian bowlers bowl anyway, attacking the stumps," Zampa told cricket.com.au last week.

"It suits me perfectly.

"The odd one spins, the odd one goes straight.

"The leg-spinners who have had success over in India are the ones that attack the stumps as much as possible.

"I know particularly over here (Australia) I'm not going to beat the outside edge of the bat. 

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"I know a lot of people say 'he doesn't spin the ball enough' and all that junk.

"I don't really see a difference if the ball goes under the bat, over the bat or next to the bat.

"People have a lot of criticism on that side of my game but there's other ways of taking wicket than being a big spinner of the ball."

Quick Single: Zampa's rise from rookie to ODI regular

Zampa shared a dressing room with Ashwin in the IPL but the world's best Test bowler didn't give much advice to his Australian teammate or reveal any tricks to Smith in the nets.

"I think the way Ashwin bowled in the nets, you ask someone like Smithy or guys that you can tell he's going to come up against in international cricket … I think there was one net session to Smithy where he just bowled leggies for an hour," Zampa said.

"I don't think he wants to give too much away."

The big calls that have shaped Zampa's career

Detractors of Zampa will point to his first-class record, which reads 62 wickets in 25 matches at 50.35.

But Zampa counters by explaining the role the domestic pitches have played which offer little assistance for spin bowling, save the Sydney Cricket Ground where the NSW tweakers have cashed in on raging turners.

"A lot of people have been talking about my first-class statistics and all those things, but if I was given the opportunity, the way I bowled in Sri Lanka particularly and I know it's Twenty20 cricket but during the IPL, the respect I've gained from those countries and the players now I think I would suit that role," Zampa said.

"I know the numbers don't show it but I've improved a lot in Sheffield Shield cricket.

"I got three wickets on a day one Gabba wicket which doesn't happen that often to leg-spinners.

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"The ball is certainly coming out well, it's just a matter of opportunity.

"I wish I had the opportunity to play on the SCG some time at the start of the season as well.

"I think my numbers would be slightly different if I had that opportunity."

If Australia's selectors opt to pick a leg-spinner for India, Zampa might be the perfect fit, even if he's not your typical leggie. 



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