Zampa emerges as Australia's most indispensable

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa has dominated the difficult overs for Australia at this tournament, a role he's filled to near perfection for the past four years

Cummins ramps up pressure on South Africa ahead of semi-final

"Ideally we don't want to be relying on middle overs wickets."

That was Australia coach Andrew McDonald in Delhi on October 23, after his side had just gone wicketless in the Powerplay for the third match in a row.

You can understand where McDonald is coming from – in the past five years of men's one-day internationals the middle overs (overs 11-40) have been the hardest time for bowlers to strike (per Opta).

But Australia have had to rely on middle overs wickets, with only two sides taking fewer Powerplay wickets than them during this World Cup.

Thankfully for the Australians though, their leg-spinner Adam Zampa has dominated the difficult overs.

Not only did Zampa finish the group stage with the most wickets out of all bowlers (22), he's easily been the most effective during the middle overs with his 17 wickets in that period four ahead of the next best players.


And Australia have needed him to be.

The second-best Aussie in that period of the innings has been Pat Cummins with six wickets. Glenn Maxwell is third with only four.

Zampa's dominance isn't a surprise for team management, it's been a consistent theme since the 2019 World Cup, with Zampa's 75 middle-overs wickets the most by any one player in ODIs and way ahead of the next best, India's Kuldeep Yadav with 65.

But few would have predicted he'd be this effective.

"His control of his length has been the best that I've seen," Australia's bowling coach, and great spinner in his own right, Daniel Vettori said in Pune.

"I think we all know the skills and the variations (that he has), but his ability to land the ball on the spot time and time again gives most teams limited opportunities to attack him.

"It's all about the length of control for him, because all the other skills are there. But when you combine that … he's almost unplayable."

But not everything's gone to plan in the 31-year-old's campaign.

A sore glute picked up in the preceding ODI series against India hampered Zampa in the first two matches of the World Cup and he finished with a combined 1-123.

Australia lost both those matches (to India and South Africa) and this has been a pronounced trend across his entire career.

His bowling average differential between wins and losses is 28.14, emphasising his significance to a positive result for Australia. This margin is also the largest of any of Australia's bowlers in the format. 

And further adding to his importance is the lack of a back-up frontline spinner in Australia's squad.  

Tanveer Sangha has been travelling with the side as the squad's reserve player, but with only two ODIs to his name it would be unfair to expect the same match-winning ability from the 21-year-old.

The Australians admit they could not afford their star spinner to go down with a serious injury and through the glute complaint, back spasms and a run-in with the hotel pool wall, Zampa has played all nine group matches.

"Whether he felt it or not he might have had a little bit of added pressure through the World Cup being the only out-and-out spinner in the squad," Mitch Starc told on Monday.  

"To pull up the numbers he's doing after maybe not the ideal start for him in the first couple of games, he has been incredibly consistent since then."

If Zampa can string together two more strong performances he may end up adding a one-day international crown to his 2021 T20 World Cup success.

Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures

October 8: Lost to India by six wickets

October 12: Lost to South Africa by 134 runs

October 16: Beat Sri Lanka by five wickets

October 20: Beat Pakistan by 62 runs

October 25: Beat Netherlands by 309 runs

October 28: Beat New Zealand by five runs

November 4: Beat England by 33 runs

November 7: Beat Afghanistan by three wickets

November 11: Beat Bangladesh by eight wickets

November 16: Second semi-final v South Africa, Kolkata, 7.30pm AEDT

November 19: Final, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

2023 World Cup standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 India Men India Men IND 9 9 0 0 0 2.57 0 18
2 South Africa Men South Africa Men SA 9 7 2 0 0 1.261 0 14
3 Australia Men Australia Men AUS 9 7 2 0 0 0.841 0 14
4 New Zealand Men New Zealand Men NZ 9 5 4 0 0 0.743 0 10
5 Pakistan Men Pakistan Men PAK 9 4 5 0 0 -0.199 0 8
6 Afghanistan Men Afghanistan Men AFG 9 4 5 0 0 -0.336 0 8
7 England Men England Men ENG 9 3 6 0 0 -0.572 0 6
8 Bangladesh Men Bangladesh Men BAN 9 2 7 0 0 -1.087 0 4
9 Sri Lanka Men Sri Lanka Men SL 9 2 7 0 0 -1.419 0 4
10 Netherlands Men Netherlands Men NED 9 2 7 0 0 -1.825 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points