'Different cat' Zampa's date with a King

Aussie leg-spinner returns with a bang and is feeling confident after speaking with Shane Warne ahead of Saturday's clash with England

A chat to 'The King' Shane Warne has spinner Adam Zampa primed for Australia's must-win ICC Champions Trophy clash against England in Birmingham on Saturday.

Zampa was left out of Australia's tournament opener against New Zealand at Edgbaston but he used his time out of the XI wisely by talking technique with Warne, who was in Birmingham on commentary duty.

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Some sage advice from the world's greatest-ever leg-spinner gave Zampa a timely boost and he impressed when he was recalled for Monday's match against Bangladesh at The Oval, taking two wickets in four overs.

And he could be a key weapon when Australia return to Edgbaston on Saturday for their pre-Ashes battle with England on a ground that should suit spin after hosting three games in a week.

"I had a chat to 'The King' the other day in Birmingham so I'm feeling pretty good at the moment and hopefully conditions suit me in the next game," Zampa said.

"I just asked him about a few technical things. I normally don't like to talk too technical, but I think there was something going on during the IPL so I had a quick word to him.

"I've spoken to him a couple of times in the last few years, he's around the Melbourne Stars a little bit as well, so it's nice to have that relationship.

"To have someone of that calibre to have a quick word with, I'm feeling confident at the moment."

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Zampa defended skipper Steve Smith's decision to hold him back until the 35th over against Bangladesh, saying the presence of two left-handers at the crease meant part-time off-spinner Travis Head was a far more suitable option during the middle overs.

The spinner could have a major role to play if Australia reach the knockout stage of the tournament and he's also relishing the tag of team jester in what has been a frustrating campaign so far.

Only 124.5 overs of play have been possible out of a total of 300 in Australia's past three matches (including a warm-up against Pakistan), the players spending more time watching rain fall than playing cricket out in the middle.

A self-described "different cat", Zampa has sported four different hairstyles in a little more than a fortnight on tour; his brief experiment with a man bun was abandoned after just a few days and he revealed a shocking bleached perm for the game against New Zealand.

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He admits he "wasn't in the best nick" for the NZ match, but some wise counsel from his girlfriend on her arrival in the UK has seen him tone down his new look significantly to the point where he’s "happy with it now".

The 25-year-old says he enjoys lightening the mood around the group with his alternative views on fashion, adding the frustration of the past few weeks will all be forgotten if Australia can beat England and progress to the final four.

"I reckon I'm the guy the boys go to for a bit of a mood change," he said.

"In the last couple of hours (during a rain delay) I was trying to keep the boys up and about. Undies on head a little bit when you're watching the rain, so I try to make the boys laugh whenever I can.

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"If we can play well against England and get into the finals, none of what's happened really matters.

"We're just looking at it as a quarter-final and Australians in ICC tournaments in the past have thrived on that pressure and hopefully we can do the same."

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1 JuneEngland beat Bangladesh by eight wickets

2 JuneNew Zealand v Australia, No Result

3 JuneSri Lanka lost to South Africa by 96 runs

4 June – India beat Pakistan by 124 runs

5 JuneAustralia v Bangladesh, No Result

6 JuneEngland v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 JunePakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 JuneIndia v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 JuneNew Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 JuneEngland v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 JuneIndia v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 JuneSri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 JuneFirst semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 JuneSecond semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 JuneFinal, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

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