ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Aussies put focus on spin for Cup conquest
Zampa and Lyon take centre stage as Aussies take spin-heavy approach to Cup preparation
Louis Cameron in Southampton
20 May 2019, 06:05 PM AEST
Australia's changing view of the role of slow-bowling in 50-over cricket could extend to fielding dual spinners at the upcoming World Cup, as Adam Zampa expressed hope that his flourishing bond with Nathan Lyon can continue.
Four years ago, Australia won their fifth 50-over crown on the strength and depth of their fast bowling but have since adopted a vastly different attitude to both how they employ spin and how they bat against it.
Not a single over of pace was bowled in an extended centre-wicket training session at the Whitgift School at Croydon, South London, on Sunday, as spinners Zampa, Lyon and Glenn Maxwell plus part-time tweakers Aaron Finch and Steve Smith all took the ball.
Highly-rated spin consultant Sridharan Sriram, along with Indian wrist-spinners Pardeep Sahu and KK Jiyas, have all been re-enlisted to help Australia counter the rising threat spinners are expected to pose at the World Cup.
Zampa and Lyon have forged a strong bond in recent months, making a pact to show selectors playing two spinners can be a viable option for the tournament.
"We've made a really crucial effort to put in a bit of time together," said Zampa. "It's really important.
"We said to each other a few months ago, 'we can play a huge role coming up to the World Cup, so let's do everything we can to make sure we're both there'.
"We've communicated well over the last few months. We speak a lot in the nets, in the field, anything about spin bowling, field settings, that kind of thing."
After extended stints out of the side over the past few years, the pair have both featured in Australia's past 10 ODIs – albeit on the subcontinent where conditions tend to be more favourable to spin – and have played a key role in their ongoing eight-game win streak.
While Australia may be tempted to slide another fast bowler into their XI for games in the United Kingdom, Zampa was unequivocal when asked about the potential of playing two spinners.
"One hundred per cent," said Zampa. "I love playing with Gaz.
"We play different roles. He is so accurate, a beautiful off-spinner and bowls with his field really well. He bowls really tight, so it means I can attack from the other end. It's going to play a huge role for us.
"I don't think it will be every game at the World Cup but maybe some games."
Zampa’s thinking represents a major tweak in Australia's traditional reliance on seam bowling, especially in the post-Shane Warne era.
The Australians won the 2015 World Cup without fielding a specialist spinner for nearly the entire tournament, relying on seemingly endless pace stocks and only occasional off-spin spells from Maxwell. The sole specialist spinner in the squad, Xavier Doherty, bowled just seven overs in his one pool game, against Sri Lanka.
It’s led to their downfall on occasion too. At the 2011 World Cup held on the subcontinent, the Aussies backed their express trio of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait to blast sides out, a tactic that backfired after they failed to make the semi-finals.
The current outfit's increased focus on spin in 50-over cricket has extended to their batting too.
Australia have been upfront about their weakness with coping with spin through the middle overs of one-day games, though their eight-match win streak on spin-friendly pitches in India and the UAE has reflected marked improvement on that front.
"We've made note that it is going to be very crucial stopping spinners getting wickets through the middle overs of this World Cup and how we are going to have to play spin well," Zampa said.
"The last three or four years you have seen the game change and spinners have come into the game a bit more.
"I think that is something we have struggled with, playing against spin 12-18 months ago.
"But it was something we rectified in Pakistan and India. The boys are getting a lot better at it."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia v West Indies, Southampton
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE