Qantas Tour of NZ 2018
Zampa hopes for turn in white-ball fortunes
Leg-spinner hopeful he remains part of Australia's white-ball plans for upcoming ODI and T20 World Cups
28 February 2018, 12:34 PM AEST
With World Cups in both limited-overs formats looming in each of the next two years, Adam Zampa is hopeful the recent resurgence of wrist spinners in white ball cricket sees him squarely in Australia’s selection plans for each event.
Despite performances in the Gillette ODI Series against England that he summed up as "underwhelming" and having spent much of the subsequent T20 tri-series at home and in New Zealand on the reserves' bench, Zampa believes he is still worthy of a place in Australia’s best XI.
But while he feels his chances remain strong of being part of the squad the defending World Cup champions will take to the UK next year for the ICC's quadrennial 50-over showpiece, he is not quite so sure where he now sits in the make-up of successfully revamped national T20 outfit.
Even though leg-spinners like Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, New Zealand's Ish Sodhi and the West Indian Samuel Badree currently occupy the top three berths on the ICC’s T20 bowlers' rankings.
And the next World T20 championship – the only major global men’s cricket trophy that Australia is yet to win – will be played in 2020 on Australian grounds where wrist spinners have regularly proved their effectiveness during the KFC Big Bash League.
"Not really," Zampa admitted yesterday when asked if he knew where he stood in Australia’s T20 planning having played just one of a possible five matches in the T20 tri-series that David Warner’s new-look team emerged from undefeated.
"They (selectors) have made it pretty obvious for one-day cricket and the World Cup coming up that they wanted a wrist spinner, so I suppose I was in a good position there.
"But T20-wise I’m not too sure now.
"I think I’m still in the best XI but it’s hard to change the team when the team is winning."
Adding to the intrigue surrounding Zampa's standing is that pitch conditions in New Zealand for the second half of the recent tri-series favoured spin to the extent that the home team (Sodhi and Mitchell Santner) and England (Adil Rashid and Liam Dawson) both played dual specialist spinners in their final matches.
A decision that also indicated the fear for how spinners might fare on the boutique-sized Eden Park ground in Auckland where Australia played their last two games was not a significant factor, and Zampa claims he was close to earning selection for the series final against the host nation.
But as the 25-year-old points out, the fact that Australia's team was selected largely on the basis of performances in BBL|07 barely missed a beat after years of them struggling to come to grips with the 20-over game at international level means it's tough to query the selectors' wisdom.
However, the South Australia leg-spinner – who on Tuesday claimed his 100th first-class wicket during the Redbacks' JLT Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at Adelaide Oval – is regarded by many as even more adept at the T20 game than other formats.
That view was underscored at the recent Allan Border Medal presentation in Melbourne when Zampa finished equal second (with allrounder Moises Henriques) in the voting for Australia's International T20 Player of the Year behind winner Aaron Finch.
The New South Wales-born leg-spinner claimed seven wickets at an average of 10.86 and economy rate of 5.85 (less than a run per ball) having played all five of Australia's T20 internationals during the voting period from 8 January 2017 to the same date this year.
Of greater significance, however, was the breakdown of those votes – Zampa received more than twice as many from his teammates (7) than from umpires and media onlookers (3), which suggests his contributions were more highly valued in the inner sanctum than raw statistics might indicate.
Zampa will learn more about his place in the white-ball pecking order when Australia embarks on its next ODI campaign, the Qantas Tour of the United Kingdom in June for a series of five 50-over matches against England.
Given that looms as a full dress rehearsal for the World Cup that will be staged in the UK less than a year later, the squad for that tour is expected to provide a clear picture of the selectors' preferred thinking for Australia's World Cup defence.
Zampa, who has played 31 ODIs since his international debut in Wellington two years ago, was part of Australia's team in all but one of the five Gillette Series matches against England last month that saw the visitors romp to a 4-1 victory.
He returned the unflattering figures of 2-215 from his 36 overs in that tournament in which his rival leggie Rashid (10-299) finished as leading wicket-taker.
"I feel like I bowled okay with the one-dayers without too much result, and then T20s I just didn’t really get much opportunity," Zampa said.
But with the prospect of two more Shield matches on SA's schedule before Zampa heads to the UK for a stint with Essex for the coming northern summer's T20 competition, he is hoping the English-made Dukes ball in use for the second half of the Shield season might deliver results that have recently eluded him with the white one.
"It usually spins a bit more here than usual, a bit more spin and bounce but I'm not finding that so much this game," Zampa said of the Dukes ball on Tuesday after finishing with 2-99 from 27 overs in Queensland’s second innings.
"I do enjoy bowling with it, it’s a bit different to the (Australia-made) Kookaburra. It just reacts differently in the air.
"I just feel that sometimes instead of drifting into the right-hander and spinning away it will drift away.
"So it plays funny buggers a little bit."