Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Zampa enters Lyon's den in hunt for Baggy Green
Australia's limited-overs leg-spinner Adam Zampa switches states in bid to learn from Nathan Lyon with his eyes firmly set on earning his way into the Test team
Dave Middleton with AAP
15 June 2020, 02:07 PM AEST
Adam Zampa has reiterated his desire to play Test cricket for Australia, with the promise of more opportunities to play Sheffield Shield and push his case the key reason behind his decision to switch states this winter.
Zampa today confirmed one of domestic cricket's worst-kept secrets, ending a seven-season association with the South Australian Redbacks that saw him rise to become Australia's first-choice leg-spinner in ODI and T20 formats.
Zampa revealed he discussed the move with Australia head coach Justin Langer some six months ago, and received the coach's blessing to push his case in the longest format, but is yet to speak with Test spinner Nathan Lyon, the man he hopes to partner at the Blues and, eventually, in Baggy Green.
"You'd have to be silly not to aim for Test cricket, and also be silly not to recognise that Nathan has that spot, and solidly for the next three or four years minimum," Zampa said today.
"If you're another spinner in the country your best bet is try and play with Nathan so if I can form a relationship with him and play some Shield cricket with Nath, that's probably the best way for me to get that Baggy Green.
Never get sick of watching this delivery! It was the icing on the cake of a 'big summer' for Adam Zampa. pic.twitter.com/QtX7sJCHCb— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) May 12, 2020
"Adelaide was a really good platform for me when I went there when I was 21.
"I took a bit of a risk and I think it paid off – I've played quite a bit for Australia since moving to Adelaide – but I'm glad to be back home."
And while moving states and the logistical challenges that has entailed during the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented him from sowing the first seeds of that bond with Nathan Lyon yet, NSW coach Phil Jaques has been instrumental in luring his former club teammate back home.
"I've known Jaquesy for a long time, I played with him at Sutherland as well, so I've known him for 15 years," Zampa said.
"We've had honest conversations already about where I sit, in Shield cricket particularly.
"Which is good; I know that I'm not here to play every Shield game, but when I do, to try take every opportunity and if I can play with Nathan, that's going to be a massive bonus."
Zampa, 28, fills the gap left in the Blues squad when veteran Steve O'Keefe's contract was not renewed, and could expect to be the state's first-choice tweaker when Lyon is away on Test duty.
In the past two seasons he played just three shield games for SA – his last match came just seven months ago, in November at the WACA where he was called on to bowl just a single over in the team's second innings.
Zampa's first-class record of 105 wickets in 38 matches at an average of 48.26 leaves room for improvement, something the leg-spinner is confident will come with opportunity.
"It's literally just been a lack of opportunity the last few years," Zampa said of his red-ball development.
"I felt three years ago I had one full season of Shield cricket and my game improved a lot.
"But ever since then I've basically played a lot of white-ball cricket for Australia and the opportunity just wasn't there.
"I haven't played much red-ball cricket to be honest, so I'm looking forward to it."
Zampa made his international white-ball debut in both formats in early 2016, and the 2016-17 Shield season has been his most prolific, with 30 wickets at 38.30 in eight matches. He added 17 more scalps in the 2017-18 summer in five games
A native of Shellharbour in the Illawarra region about two hours' drive south of Sydney, Zampa has taken 108 international wickets for Australia across 55 ODIs and 30 T20 matches.
Zampa made his first-class debut for the Blues in 2012, playing three Shield matches before moving to South Australia where he claimed 95 first-class wickets and a further 51 in one-day matches for the Redbacks.
The NSW Blues are expected to announce their full 2020-21 state contract lists later this week, but Zampa is one of seven Blues contracted with Cricket Australia along with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and David Warner.