Australia v Zimbabwe ODIs - Men
Zampa eyes top end impact as World Cup hike begins
Adam Zampa has always been a little unorthodox, and Australia's premier white-ball leg-spinner was last week bowling on gravel in hiking boots ahead of his return to action following paternity leave
18 July 2022, 12:29 PM AEST
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa has confirmed he will miss the latter stages of The Hundred in the UK as he sets his sights on Australia's dual World Cup tilts across the next 16 months.
Zampa, who missed Australia's recent tour of Sri Lanka while on paternity leave, will play in the tournament with the Welsh Fire but an overlap in scheduling means he was effectively double booked at the end of August and potentially into September, should the Fire reach the finals.
Australia have an ODI series lined up through that window against Zimbabwe in Townsville (Aug 28 – Sept 3), which is followed closely by another three-match series against New Zealand in Cairns (Sept 6-11).
They will be the first ODIs in Australia since December 2020 and the white-ball specialist, who has recently returned to some light bowling near his home on the NSW Far North Coast, is eager to begin his road to the next two World Cups.
"I think the way it'll go with The Hundred is I'll play part of the tournament," Zampa told cricket.com.au. "In an ideal world the schedule lines up and you don't have to play half (a tournament), but this Zimbabwe tour of the Top End has been years in the making, so I'll be on deck for that.
"I love playing for Australia. The tour to Sri Lanka is the only one I've ever pulled out of, and I don't have any plans on pulling out of any more tours, other than for life-changing events.
"I needed the break mentally and physically, and it was nice to be able to put some time into the family as well, but I've picked up the tools again recently.
"Brisbane is really close so I've been able to have a couple of bowls at AB Field. I also had a bowl at Bangalow Cricket Club's synthetic wicket, and I had my dad over last week, we had the spray paint out and we painted a wicket on the gravel road and I had a bowl in my hiking shoes. They came out well."
The 30-year-old has arguably been in the form of his life of late, leading Australia's wicket-takers with 12 in last year's triumphant T20 World Cup campaign and moving to a career-high 10th place in the ICC ODI rankings in March, while also taking his 100th wicket in the format.
"I think I've generally improved each year," he said. "So until my body starts letting me down, which it isn't at the moment, I think it's all about information that you have in your head, and experience, and I always feel like the less you let things get to you – or the less nervous you are, and the more experience you have – the more likely you are to succeed.
"You literally can't buy that, you have to learn on the go and I think that's the best thing about playing cricket and getting older is that you feel like you do get better with age."
ODI World Cup success is one thing that has so far eluded Zampa. He debuted 11 months after Australia won the 2015 edition, then was a bit-part player in 2019 tournament (four matches, five wickets at 47.20) where pace bowling dominated in English conditions.
But with next year's ODI World Cup on the subcontinent, Zampa's effectiveness looks set to be a key weapon for Australia; India is his most successful country in the format in terms of wickets taken, with his 20 in 11 matches the most of any visiting spinner this century. And as a competitive beast who likes to target the big wickets, it is telling that nine of those have been either Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma.
"I think team success obviously helps with that," he said of his record in India. "We won that amazing series a few years ago (in 2019) and then the year after we played a three-match ODI series that was really close too (India won 2-1), so we've had good battles over there.
"From a personal point of view, I always just try to compete. That's always my go-to in any circumstances. There were plenty of times in those series in India where I was under the pump, but I just tried to stay in the game and get the big wicket when the opportunity arose."
Zampa zeroed in on more detail when discussing the advantages he sees for himself on home turf in this year's T20I World Cup, as Australia look to become the first team to defend the title. Remarkably, the NSW product has played just 32 of his 129 internationals at home but his understanding of – and familiarity with – the venues via those matches as well as through the KFC BBL is something he feels leaves him well placed to perform.
"In Australia I tend to bowl a little bit more over the top of the ball, to try and get that bounce, because guys are always trying to hit the sightscreen, so anytime I can hit the top of the bat definitely helps," he explains.
"In Dubai in the last World Cup, I tried to almost take bounce and side-spin out of the game and just go underneath the bat.
"So in Australia, you almost want the ball to bounce over the stumps, and then other places, the more you can hit the stumps, the better.
"Cricket's changed a lot in the last few years but we definitely exploited that (home ground advantage) in the 2015 World Cup and I think it's going to be the same here. When you're familiar with grounds, and you aren't overawed by the experience of the crowd, the size of the grounds, the wickets … it does make it easier.
"I'm really confident with our squad. I always tend to think experience wins you those tournaments, and we have that in spades."
Tickets are on sale now for the 2022-23 international summer of cricket for Australian Cricket Family members and will be on sale to the general public from July 22. Get yours here
Men's Dettol ODI Series v Zimbabwe
Sunday Aug 28: Riverway Stadium, Townsville, 9:40am
Wednesday Aug 31: Riverway Stadium, Townsville, 9:40am
Saturday Sep 3: Riverway Stadium, Townsville, 9:40am
Men's Dettol ODI Series v New Zealand
Tuesday, Sep 6: Cazaly Stadium, Cairns, 2:20pm
Thursday, Sep 8: Cazaly Stadium, Cairns, 2:20pm
Sunday Sep 11: Cazaly Stadium, Cairns, 2:20pm