ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Ice-cool Zampa reveals Rash tactics
How an impromptu chat over an icy pole at a Big Bash match in rural Victoria could help the Aussies get off to a World Cup flyer
Louis Cameron in Southampton
20 May 2019, 06:05 PM AEST
If Australia's batters can successfully quell the threat of the "once in a lifetime bowler" Rashid Khan in their World Cup opener against upstarts Afghanistan, they may have Adam Zampa's initiative to thank.
Moe, a Victorian country town 120 kilometres east of Melbourne, provided the unlikely setting for a meeting of minds between two of the world's best white-ball wrist-spinners.
A curious Zampa initiated an impromptu tutorial after his Melbourne Stars had overcome Rashid's Adelaide Strikers at Ted Summerton Reserve on a Wednesday afternoon in January, with the Afghan happy to reveal the secrets to his unprecedented success.
"I went into the Strikers' room and I said, 'Rash', and he was licking on a Calippo (icy pole) and it was dripping down the front of his shirt," a dead-pan Zampa said to laughter.
"He said 'yeah, I'll come for a bowl'. He finished it (the Calippo) off on the walk out.
"I was always intrigued with him and said, 'I am going to have a bowl with this guy'."
Zampa admits he left the bush no closer to being able to replicate Rashid's freakish method.
"The reason he runs in so fast is because he's got really thick fingers and holds the ball right at the end (of his fingers)," Zampa explained.
"I bowl it (with the ball) right in my palm, he bowls it right at the end. He's so hard to pick because he just uses the end of his fingers.
"I tried doing it but they were just slipping out.
"I was like, 'this bloke is unbelievable'."
But the information divulged to both him and Stars and Australian teammate Marcus Stoinis could prove useful for their first-up World Cup clash on June 1 in Bristol.
"To his credit he spent about 45 minutes with me," continued Zampa. "I had (Stars list manager) Trent Woodhill with me and Stoinis actually came over and was interested.
"I am so glad I did that because I now know I could never bowl like Rashid.
"But having that information now means I can give it to our batters. Rashid Khan is a once in a lifetime bowler."
Afghanistan were the last team to qualify for the 10-team World Cup, but the rapidly-improving side shape as a testing first-up encounter for the defending champions.
Rashid has become arguably the most dangerous white-ball bowler on the planet, obliterating Mitchell Starc's record as the fastest player to 100 ODI wickets last year while dominating T20 leagues like the BBL and the Indian Premier League.
He's set to be flanked by fellow spinners Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, another two players known to Australian fans through impressive recent BBL stints.
But Australia's squad is about as well-acquainted with Rashid as any of their World Cup competitors; David Warner took him under his wing in his breakout IPL campaign at Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017, while gloveman Alex Carey has kept to the superstar leggie at the Strikers over the past two BBL seasons.
"I can pick him most of the time," said Carey. "Keeping to him, batting against him in the nets … he's really skilful, really competitive along with all their players.
"The beauty of all the leagues around the world is that we get to experience the world's best outside of international cricket.
"I'm really excited to play against 'Rash' … they're going to be keen to start the tournament well and so are we."
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