'Like gold dust': How 'Gades secured Australia's best spinner

Renegades coach David Saker explains why the club parted ways with their only wicketkeeper to secure Adam Zampa

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After three seasons without finals, the Melbourne Stars were desperate to get a local wicketkeeper on their books for KFC BBL|13 – and they were prepared to offload Australia's best white-ball spinner to do so.

Adam Zampa will play his first match for his new club tonight – the Stars' crosstown rivals Melbourne Renegades – who were equally as keen to get a local spinner into their squad at the end of last season.

But as 'Gades head coach David Saker has since discovered, obtaining the services of an Australian domestic 'keeper is not as easy as it seems.

In a case of déjà vu, the Renegades go into tonight's clash with Sydney Sixers at the SCG with Joe Clarke as their gloveman, with the Englishman having kept for the Stars for the past two BBL seasons before they secured Sam Harper in the trade for Zampa.

South African star Quinton de Kock is then expected to arrive to take the gloves and open the batting for their next game in Geelong on Sunday following a stint in the Abu Dhabi T10 league.

Despite not wanting to lose Harper – a member of their title-winning BBL|08 team and the club's second most prolific run-scorer behind Aaron Finch – Saker believes his side got the better deal out of the trade.

Zampa – the Stars' all-time leading wicket-taker with 98 – arrives at his new club in sublime form on the back of being Australia's leading bowler and the tournament's leading spinner with 23 wickets during the nation's 50-over World Cup triumph in India.

"Getting a quality local spinner is like gold dust and his availability really became a chance when the Stars were after a wicketkeeper and we were after a local spinner," Saker told ahead of BBL|13.

"Obviously, 'Zamps' (Zampa) has got a great relationship with Nic Maddinson and Kane Richardson, and I get on particularly well with him through my experiences with the Australian team, so we pushed pretty hard to get him.

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"But to do that we lost Sam and that was hard. It's a hard decision when you lose a pretty important player for your team, but we just thought a local spinner of that quality just doesn't come around very often.

"We tried to get a local wicketkeeper but it's not (that) easy, all the good local wicketkeepers are usually signed up.

"So we went to the draft to get a wicketkeeper and we've ended up with two.

"We're happy with where it ended up – to lose Sam, we didn't want to do that, but you've got to pay a price sometimes to get a guy like Zampa.

"We think we've won out of the deal, (we wish) Sam good luck at the Stars, but that's just the way the game is, it can be pretty ruthless."

De Kock is expected to keep for the seven games he is available for before handing the gloves back to Clarke when he leaves for the South African T20 league following their clash with Hobart Hurricanes on January 4.

Although with Clarke set to join Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the UAE T20 league prior to finals, Saker hinted at signing another wicketkeeper before the end of the season.

For the Stars, trading Zampa for Harper freed up space in their salary cap, allowing them to transform their pace bowling attack with the additions of Scott Boland, Joel Paris and Mark Steketee who have been among the most consistent performers at state level over the past few years.

And while it didn't pay off last night as the Stars conceded 3-214 against the Heat before being rolled for 111 to lose by over 100 runs, they could welcome Pakistan speedster Haris Rauf, Steketee and Beau Webster into their attack for their next match against Perth Scorchers at the MCG on Wednesday.

Harper, while initially disappointed, said he had moved on from the shock of being traded and is currently enjoying one of his best seasons with the bat for Victoria following his 104-ball 151 in the final Marsh Sheffield Shield match before BBL|13.

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"It all happened pretty quickly if I'm honest – one morning I woke up a Renegade and went to bed a Star with the trade," Harper said.

"A person of my calibre just gets dealt the cards they're given and then you're just looking for the best opportunity, and lucky enough for me that was with the Stars.

"I had a fantastic six years running with the Renegades, made some great mates, had some awesome memories winning that title, and looking forward to making some new ones with the Stars.

"The first year I went to the Renegades we won a title, so I'm hoping that will follow suit at the Stars."

KFC BBL|13 standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 Brisbane Heat Men Brisbane Heat Men HEA 10 7 1 0 2 0.972 0 16
2 Sydney Sixers Men Sydney Sixers Men SIX 10 6 2 0 2 0.339 0 14
3 Perth Scorchers Men Perth Scorchers Men SCO 10 6 3 0 1 0.725 0 13
4 Adelaide Strikers Men Adelaide Strikers Men STR 10 5 4 0 1 0.331 0 11
5 Hobart Hurricanes Men Hobart Hurricanes Men HUR 10 4 6 0 0 -0.268 0 8
6 Melbourne Stars Men Melbourne Stars Men STA 10 4 6 0 0 -1.051 0 8
7 Melbourne Renegades Men Melbourne Renegades Men REN 10 2 6 0 2 -0.288 0 6
8 Sydney Thunder Men Sydney Thunder Men THU 10 1 7 0 2 -0.652 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points

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