Why Australia must show faith in Adam Zampa

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Leg spinner Adam Zampa yesterday underlined why Australia must show faith in him as he and rookie paceman Jason Behrendorff bowled the tourists to a dominant Twenty20 win in India.

    Behrendorff (4-21) and Zampa (2-19) helped roll India for 118, a total which Australia overhauled with eight wickets in hand thanks to solid knocks by Moises Henriques (62 from 46 balls) and Travis Head (48 from 34).

    Zampa bowled better than he has all year, after being belted by the Indian batsmen during the recent five-match ODI series.

    That series was the worst of the 25-year-old’s international career as he gave up a whopping seven runs per over, while taking four wickets at 47 from three matches. In the ODIs, Zampa offered Australia neither control nor a wicket-taking threat in the middle overs, two things he had consistently provided during his brief career.

    But this is not new territory for a non-Asian spinner in India, where many visiting tweakers have been harshly dealt with in all three formats.

    Fortunately, Zampa seems to be a self-assured cricketer. For a bowler with such confidence, a rough spell such as this can be turned into a positive, allowing them to learn valuable lessons. That’s why it was important that Australia did not discard him after his torrid series.

    Yesterday, they were rewarded for their faith. Zampa avoided the same mistake of bowling far too straight, allowing the Indians to hit him down the ground or over the leg side. Many of his deliveries in the ODIs pitched on leg or middle stump and slid on to the pads of the Indian batsman.

    On a pitch which didn’t offer much assistance to the slow bowlers, Zampa yesterday shifted his line about 15cm wider, landing plenty of deliveries just outside off stump.

    He also pulled his length back a touch, forcing the Indian batsmen to advance down the pitch if they wanted to be able to drive with confidence. Bowling to a strong offside field, Zampa’s approach greatly reduced boundary opportunities.

    At his best, Zampa is a difficult bowler to strike to or over the boundary. That’s why he has been a success in every T20 competition in which he has played, from the Big Bash League to the Indian Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League.

    His career T20 record is outstanding, with 83 wickets at an average of 19 and a fantastic economy rate of 6.99 runs per over. Zampa has been even better in his 12 T20s for Australia, averaging just 15 with an economy rate of 5.92.

    While a Test or ODI team can be elite without having a quality spinner – South Africa managed that for many years – the same is not true in T20s. Spinners dominate the shortest format and no bowler is more valuable than a good wrist spinner.

    In Zampa, Australia have a potentially elite T20 bowler, and a potentially above-average ODI spinner. They haven’t possessed the latter for a long time, and the former ever. If they are to win the next World T20 in 2020, finally breaking their drought at that tournament, Australia will need to boast a world-class short form spinner. Right now, Zampa is clearly the best candidate. He must be nurtured.

    Australia's Adam Zampa bowls

    AAP Image/SNPA, John Cowpland

    As well as Zampa bowled, it was left-arm quick Behrendorff who set up the win.

    Western Australia fans, such as myself, have long been aware of just what an extraordinary talent Behrendorff is. It’s surprising that it has taken him so long to earn his international debut, which came in the first T20 on Saturday.

    What has made WA supporters salivate for years is the 27-year-old’s ability to earn sharp, late swing with the new ball.

    This rare gift was on show yesterday, as Behrendorff scythed through the potent Indian batting line-up. Midway through his third over, he had the remarkable figures of 4-12, having dismissed Indian superstars Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, as well as impressive newcomer Manish Pandey.

    Bowling at up to 140kmh, Behrendorff not only troubled the Indians with his swing but also with the sharp lift he earns off a length. His upright action makes the most of his 194cm height.

    As I flagged in the lead up to his debut, this series could be crucial for Behrendorff’s Test ambitions.

    If Jason Behrendorff wants to play in the Ashes, T20s against India are key

    With James Pattinson ruled out of the Ashes through injury, Behrendorff is suddenly jockeying with the likes of Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers to be Australia’s number one back-up paceman for the home Test series.

    While it is obviously a vastly different format, Behrendorff’s sublime performance yesterday will have boosted his chances.

    More importantly, for Australia, it enabled them to record their first truly commanding win of what has been a poor limited overs tour.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • October 11th 2017 @ 8:29am
      BurgyGreen said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Zampa certainly doesn’t lack confidence – I recall him expressing surprise that he was left out of the Test squad for India earlier this year.

      Good to see Behrendorff performing, and Henriques with a good knock. Interesting that Warner used him at 3, like he does with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Warner strikes me as a quality T20 tactician – have we missed a trick by giving Smith the captaincy in all formats?

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 8:49am
        Ronan O'Connell said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        From a fairly small sample size so far Warner has definitely looked more astute tactically than Smith.

        I really like the fact that he ditched the pre-conceived bowling plans he would have had and just let Behrendorff bowl out his 4 overs on the trot. By the time Behrendorff finished his spell Australia had one foot in the winner’s circle.

        I also like that Warner backed in Zampa and didn’t take him off when his nemesis Pandya came to the crease.

        Other notes:

        1. NCN bowled really well again, he’s had a brilliant tour

        2. Tye struggled again, he was easily the worst of the Aussie bowlers and just doesn’t look capable of taking the step up to international cricket. After 7 T20Is he now averages 38 with a whopping economy rate of close to 10rpo. Given that Tye is about to turn 31 years old there seems to be no logic in continuing to play him. Give younger bowlers a crack.

        3. Henriques looked awful early on and played and missed several times as he went to 3no from 13 balls. Luckily for him the RRR was really low and he was able to stay patient and then started to play really well. But in a normal T20 situation he wouldn’t have had that luxury.

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2017 @ 8:58am
          The Bush said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          Warner seems more like Warne, Clarke or Taylor, he seems to have a natural feel for cricket (yet makes Warne seem like an intellectual…). Smith might be an amazing batsman and a fine (amazing?) fieldsman, but he doesn’t seem to have that natural instinct for cricket that makes a truly great captain.

          Great stuff from Behrendorff and NCN. Couldn’t come at a better time for the blokes either, now that Patto is on an indefinite leave from cricket (and at his age might never make it now). There is a real chance to break your way into the test team, as we’re now only an injury away from needing a front liner and Bird just never seems really in favour.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am
          BurgyGreen said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          Good point about Henriques’s knock. I didn’t see it live so missed that context.

          Tye’s lack of control in internationals has been baffling. But yeah, time for someone else. Maybe Paris will be fit next time we play T20s.

          Another thing – if Behrendorff is boosting his Ashes stock in the selectors’ eyes, what about NCN? I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he leapfrogged the others, especially as he’s a somewhat similar bowler to Pattinson (though nowhere near as good with the red ball).

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 8:55am
            Chris Kettlewell said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            Tye is one of those interesting cases where he’s consistently been one of the best BBL bowlers, but has always looked completely out of his depth when it comes to international cricket. I think Ronan is right that this series may well be his last opportunity. Time to move on to other options.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 9:18am
            Ryan H said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

            It’s great to have plenty of options at this time, but I don’t quite buy into the talk surrounding Behrendorff and the Ashes. He’d be deserving if he did win a place, but he’s likely only back-up to Starc. Can’t see him earning a place ahead of any of Starc, Hazlewood or Cummins, as that is almost certainly going to be the starting bowling attack.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 9:51am
              Don Freo said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

              I think you’re right. The thing that most impressses me about Behrendorff is his control over what he is doing…and when.

              Movement, length and even pace variation is supported by a brain that can read a batsman and work a plan. There’s a subtlety there that raw pace can’t always match.

              Cummins and Hazlewood have some of these qualities. Starc comes down to raw passion and grunt…that’s not a bad thing.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 11:12am
              BurgyGreen said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

              Yeah I’m more talking about who’s going to be the backup seamer in the squad, certainly Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood will line up if fit.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 10:25am
          Don Freo said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

          As a passionate West Aussie, I agree. Andrew Tye has almost 10 West Australian bowlers ahead of him for the state side. His level is BBL and I’d even suggest better WA bowlers will bypass him in The Scorchers by the end of this next BBL.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 8:56am
            Chris Kettlewell said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            Yeah, I do often wonder about players who, despite doing really well in the BBL, aren’t even close to their state side in the 4-day or 50-over formats.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 9:44am
              Don Freo said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

              Ben Laughlin

      • October 11th 2017 @ 9:13am
        twodogs said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        They missed a trick by giving him the captaincy in any format.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 8:38am
      bazza said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      Dave Warner for Captain for all formats i think would be best steve smith is a great batsmen in our team not a great captain.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 8:58am
        Chris Kettlewell said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        I must admit it is a bit amusing thinking, what would people say if we told them a few years ago that in 2017 people would be calling for David Warner to the the full-time Australian Captain. It does show how far he’s come and how much he’s managed to turn himself around.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 9:38am
      Targa said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      Interesting. NZ will head to India for some ODIs and T20s later this month. We’ve never lost a T20 to India and are no 1 in the format, but it will be tough to maintain that unbeaten record. Young Glen Phillips (keeper batsman) scored 140 n.o. in a tied one dayer against India A overnight, so might crack the Black Caps since Ronchi has finally retired. Meanwhile Todd Astle got a 4-fer.

    • Roar Guru

      October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
      Paul D said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      You should have addressed this article to Steve Smith, he’s the worst overseer of spin since Sean Spicer

      • Roar Guru

        October 11th 2017 @ 12:42pm
        Anindya Dutta said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

        Hahaha brilliant!

      • October 12th 2017 @ 6:41am
        qwetzen said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:41am | ! Report

        Nice one.

    • Roar Guru

      October 11th 2017 @ 12:41pm
      Anindya Dutta said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      An excellent spell from Zampa yesterday. With dew making the ball difficult to grip, it was actually remarkable control for a wrist spinner. The leg break that got Dhoni stumped was such a sight for sore eyes (having been a leg spinner myself through my college days I was out of my sofa and clapping at that dismissal) specially when you saw Dhoni shaking his head all the way to the pavilion. With India 6 down it was stupid to jump out at a leggie but Dhoni could not believe the ball could spin so much past him. Zampa was dropping it just short of a length and disguising the googly well. He was truly awul, as I had expected him to be, in the ODI, but he really is made to be a superb T20 bowler.

      Its the first time I saw Behrendoff, and @Ronan I was thinking about your article on him a few days ago while he was bowling. Really talented young man in the Johnson, Starc mould. He should definitely be in the Ashes team and hopefully given a shot in one of the Tests.

      • Columnist

        October 11th 2017 @ 2:21pm
        Kris Swales said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        Ronan did neglect to mention that Zampa’s two wicket balls were belters! Didn’t realise he had that wrong’un in him.

        One decent takeaway from the year’s exploits in India – our bowlers have what it takes to succeed here in all forms of the game.

        Just got to get those batting line-ups sorted now…

        • Columnist

          October 11th 2017 @ 5:37pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

          Kris it’s hard not to feel sorry for the Aussie attack sometimes – they’ve been doing the business in all conditions, in all formats for years now. But, for every collective failure the attack has, the batting lineup has ten.

    • Roar Guru

      October 11th 2017 @ 1:45pm
      Cadfael said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

      I feel Zampa should be given a run in the Ashes tests either as support for Lyon or a replacement if Lyon is injured. Good to see a South Coast boy do good.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 1:59pm
        BurgyGreen said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Zampa is rank in long-form cricket. He’d be looking at 0-150+ in a Test match. He’s way down the list of spin options.

        • Columnist

          October 11th 2017 @ 5:39pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

          Cadfael I don’t see Zampa as a Test prospect as this stage.

          His bowling style is best suited to operating against batsman who are trying to smash him, which is why he’s at his best in T20s, less successful in ODIs, and significantly less appealing in first-class cricket.

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