Zampa Aussies' 'most important player' for Cup tilt: Marsh

Taking down Australia's 'most important bowler' in Perth paved the way for a West Indies victory

Mitch Marsh declared Adam Zampa probably his side's "most important player", as the West Indies may have provided a blueprint to stifling Australia's attempt at holding all three pieces of silverware on offer in men's international cricket.

Held back until the penultimate over of last night's third T20 as Marsh tried to break a record sixth wicket stand, Andre Russell launched the star leg-spinner for four sixes in a 28-run 19th over to help the Windies finish their Australian tour with a consolation victory.

Not only was Zampa's 1-65 from four overs the most expensive figures of his T20 international career, but they were also the most expensive for an Australian in the format.

Such has been the 31-year-old's enduring class for the nation's limited-overs teams that it was the first time he'd conceded more than 50 runs in an T20I innings, despite being the fifth-most capped Australian in the format (77 matches).

Zampa's importance to Australia's bid at lifting a second men's T20 World Cup in June, to sit alongside their World Test Championship and ODI World Cup crowns, cannot be understated.

He was the nation's leading wicket-taker in Australia’s maiden T20 World Cup triumph in the UAE (17 wickets) in 2021, and again in their 50-over campaign at last year's one-day showpiece (23).

And in the previous T20 event on home soil in 2022, Zampa's worst return (1-39 against New Zealand) was in Australia's only loss of campaign, and the one that ultimately ended their tournament when their clash with England at the MCG was abandoned due to rain.

Australia v West Indies | Third T20I

Since the start of the 2021 T20 World Cup, Zampa has conceded fewer runs per over (7.53) than any other Australian bowler to play more than 10 games, while his average runs per scoring shot (1.86) is also the lowest.

But on Tuesday evening in Perth, he ran into a red-hot Russell and Sherfane Rutherford who pummelled him to the rope four times and over it six more.

They did so by seizing on anything short or wide and targeting the shorter straight boundaries at Perth Stadium.

With Australia likely to again back Zampa as the sole specialist spinner for the T20 World Cup alongside off-spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell, teams who can successfully get after Zampa may just unlock the key to victory like the West Indies on Tuesday.

Dre Russ lights up Perth with devastating 71

"Any bowler that comes up against that line-up on their day, it's hard work. He bowled some really tough overs tonight," captain Marsh said post-match following Australia's 2-1 series victory.

"The 19th (over), it's probably the hardest over.

"We were banking on breaking that partnership at some stage and I held 'Zamps' back there but unfortunately, we came off second best.

"'Zamps' is by far our most important bowler and probably our most important player in this team."

However, with six of the top seven wicket-takers in the middle-overs (7-15) in T20 internationals since the start of the 2021 global event all leg-spinners – Shadab Khan 42, Ish Sodhi 37, Wanindu Hasaranga 36, Adil Rashid 33, Zampa 26 and Yuzvendra Chahal 26 – getting after Zampa may prove tougher than Russell and Rutherford made it look at Perth Stadium.

Marsh looks to future as Aussies 'unearth a lot of great talent'

Especially with Australia set to welcome back world-class quicks Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood back into an XI nearing full-strength for the three-match series against New Zealand beginning in Wellington on Tuesday.

After being trialled as opener in the third T20, replacing Josh Inglis after he filled the role in the first two matches of the series, Marsh revealed he would slide back to his destructive No.3 position with Travis Head also set to return to the squad for the trans-Tasman tour alongside Steve Smith and Matt Short.

"I'll be probably back three if 'Heady' comes back into the team," Marsh said.

"To be honest, I didn't have much of a say in that (opening), it was just the line-up that we wanted to go with.

"I've opened a little bit over the last 12 months and loved it.

"I think in New Zealand, I'm no selector, but I daresay Heady will come back in and we've seen how dominant they (him and David Warner) can be at the top of the order."

Johnson hopes strong IPL triggers World Cup selection

Warner signed off his international career in Australia in sensational style in Perth with a powerful 49-ball 81 to keep his side in the contest, and he also looms as crucial to their T20 World Cup hopes after being named player of the tournament in the 2021 victory.

The veteran left-hander reaffirmed that June's global event would be his last in Australian colours after securing player of the series honour for his 173 runs striking at 166 in the three-match series and he said it was time for younger "extreme talent" to take the team into the future post the World Cup.

"It's obviously been an amazing career for him and it's kind of fitting for him to finish the way he has," Marsh said of Warner.

"It'll probably go a little bit unnoticed this late in the summer, but we've been lucky to have him and we're going to be lucky to have him for a few more months in the T20 team, what a servant to Australian cricket.

"We knew that at the start of the series that we're going to give guys a go albeit with a focus to win the series.

Warner shines in likely final home international innings

"We unearthed a lot of great talent in this series and tonight was a great experience for our young guys playing against some of the best finishers in the world.

"There's no doubt that's going to be valuable for our team moving forward.

"The team will change a little bit in New Zealand with a few experienced heads coming in.

But on the whole, the series was great, and to unearth a few young guys throughout and win a series against a really good team was really impressive."

Men's Dettol T20I Series v West Indies

February 9: Australia won by 11 runs

February 11: Australia won by 34 runs

February 13: West Indies won by 37 runs

Australia T20I squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Wes Agar, Xavier Bartlett, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

West Indies T20I squad: Rovman Powell (c), Shai Hope, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas