Adam Zampa needs his captain’s confidence

Giri Subramanian Roar Guru

By Giri Subramanian, Giri Subramanian is a Roar Guru

 , ,

27 Have your say

    You can count the number of good leg spinners through the history of cricket with your hand, that’s how difficult they are to come by.

    Following Shane Warne’s retirement, Australia struggled to find a good spinner for almost decade, but have now unearthed Adam Zampa, who is extremely skilled and has had a good start to his ODI career.

    I am not for a minute comparing Zampa to Warne, but the youngster has all the making of a good spinner, yet Steven Smith though has been reluctant to play Zampa in the XI and even when he does, the skipper is reluctant to bowl him.

    The game against Bangladesh was a great example: Zampa was introduced only after 34 overs and only bowled four in total. Travis Head, on the other hand, as a part-time spinner bowled eight overs and Glenn Maxwell bowled one.

    It is really perplexing the way Smith handles an attacking bowling option. His justification of holding back Zampa because two lefties batting doesn’t fly, as you either trust your spinner or you don’t.

    Leg spinners are attacking and, yes, they are more likely to go for a few runs compared to an offie, but they are match winners too. In his short career, Zampa has 36 wickets from just 23 games at a good average of 28.

    When we look back at the history of non-subcontinental teams, except for Australia, none had an attacking spinner in the 1990s. South Africa, New Zealand and England played their spinners as run-saving options. A captain’s faith and confidence is huge for a spinner. The fact that none of the above teams had a wicket-taking spinner dictated the way they handled their bowlers. Spin was used as a defensive option with spread-out fields. Australia, on the other hand, had Warne, who was an attacking spinner and a genuine wicket taker.

    South Africa now understand the importance of a spinner. Imran Tahir is arguably the best limited-overs spinner in the world and he has been solely responsible for the change in mindset of team management. The Proteas captains are now not reluctant to include spinners as an attacking option and having two spinners in the South African squad is something we could not have imagined ten years ago.

    England also were lucky to find Graeme Swann, who was brilliant for them in all formats and was largely used as an attacking option in shorter formats.

    Spinners, especially when they are starting out, need the confidence of the captain and team management. Zampa is extremely talented and Smith will need to have some faith in the youngster.

    Smith captains Nathan Lyon in Test cricket and uses him as an attacking option, so it is not that he does not know how to handle spin bowlers. He probably does not have the confidence on Zampa yet, which can be detrimental so early in a career.

    Just as India struggled to understand fast bowling for a long time, and lost out on very good talents along the way, Australia would not want to miss out on the spin talent they have in hand.

    Good leg spinners are hard to come by – when you have one, you need to nurture the talent at your disposal. Adam Zampa has all the skills to become one of the leading spinners in the world and the only thing he possibly needs right now is an understanding captain.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (27)

    • June 8th 2017 @ 5:04am
      vaibhav said | June 8th 2017 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      common world is full of pacers we need to see some class spinners plz australia and smith let him play..

    • Roar Guru

      June 8th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Wayne said | June 8th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      How much of it is genuinely the Captain, and not the panel of coaches?

      Ponting/Waugh always appeared to be making it up on the fly based on the ‘feel’ of the game when the plans weren’t working.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2017 @ 9:41am
        Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        I think in a professional outfit like Australia, the captain should make most or all of the on field decisions. If the coaching staff is making his decisions on the field then he should not be the captain.

      • June 8th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        James said | June 8th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        Any captain who is not the boss on the field and who doesnt have at least some say off the field shouldnt be the captain. I cant imagine Smith would be so disrespectful of the himself and the post of Australia captain to simply follow orders he doesnt agree with. Zampa playing or not being played is on Smith, he gets the blame and he gets the credit.

        • Roar Guru

          June 8th 2017 @ 2:06pm
          Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          Sometimes you need to question the decisions a captain makes. If Smith wasn’t confident of using Zampa against Bangladesh, how is he going to bowl him against England? It is good that Travis Head bowled well but that does not mean you ignore your primary spinner.

    • Roar Guru

      June 8th 2017 @ 9:29am
      Paul D said | June 8th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Anyone who watched Smith’s fumbling attempts at captaincy during the 2016 World T20 tournament should not be surprised now that he still doesn’t know how to use spinners.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2017 @ 9:49am
        Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Smith isn’t a bad captain but does appear clueless sometimes. He probably is extremely comfortable with the pace attack rather than the spinners. MS Dhoni was the opposite when he was the captain, he did not know to manage his pacers and was comfortable bowling spinners and part-timers instead. Smith needs to display some confidence in the youngster, he may not come off all the time but will give them a different method of attack against a team like England.

        • June 8th 2017 @ 12:16pm
          James said | June 8th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          I would argue a clueless captain is a bad captain. Its probably too early to say that Smith is a bad captain but he does need to be sat down by an ex captain and decide what type of captain he wants to be and get some advice i think.

    • June 8th 2017 @ 1:51pm
      davros said | June 8th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

      ive never thought smith had a clue in how to use his spinners or how to show faith and boost their confidence

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2017 @ 2:08pm
        Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        That is a problem, isn’t it? Zampa needs to bowl a lot at the international level to get confidence to improve and develop. If he is in the team just to make up numbers, he is never going to get to the next level.

    • Columnist

      June 8th 2017 @ 2:31pm
      Ronan O'Connell said | June 8th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

      I’ve written many times criticising Smith’s use of spin, but I don’t think the Bangladesh game is a good example to use as a failure.

      I’ll copy comments on made on this yesterday…

      Head was, quite clearly to me, brought on first because there were two left handers at the crease and he bowls much better to lefties than righties, while Zampa statistically is much more effective to righties in ODIs.

      Head is the most vulnerable 5th bowler Australia have had in years so Smith really seems to hunt for times when he feels he can sneak Head through a few overs with minimal damage when the threat from the batsmen is lowest.

      Then Smith kept Head on because he was doing really, really well – only 18 runs off 7 overs – and the Pakistan batsmen were playing him like he was Murali at his peak. Once Head had his first loose over he was dragged and Zampa was on almost straight away.

      The Zampa situation looks strange if you just look at the scorecard. But watching the innings live it didn’t seem like a bizarre strategy to me, Head just changed the order of things by bowling unexpectedly well.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2017 @ 3:16pm
        Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

        I understand the reason for bowling Travis Head first. I have seen this strategy with other teams as well when but what I haven’t seen is the lead spinner not bowling for 35 overs. Shakib and Tamim batted for a long time and it was not until the 30th over did Australia finally break that partnership, is there a rule that only one spinner can bowl at a time? Why couldn’t Smith mix it up with couple of overs from Zampa in the middle along with Head? In that way the pressure Head was putting on the batsman could have made them to take some chances against Zampa possibly resulting in a wicket. Bowling Travis Head was not the problem here, I understand the strategy but not bowling your premier spinner for 34 overs is bad captaincy. Even after the lefties were broken, Zampa still did not come on for 4 overs. So either Smith isn’t confident of using Zampa or he just follows a set script and does not like to mix it up.

        • Columnist

          June 8th 2017 @ 3:57pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 8th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          “Is there a rule that only one spinner can bowl at a time?”

          The pace bowlers were all doing extremely well in tandem with Head so there was no need to change it up and go with two spinners at the same time.

          When things are working well you need to let them flow, not be worrying about who hasn’t got a bowl yet.

          It seems you think Smith conspired to keep Zampa out of the attack when, as someone who watched the whole innings, it appeared to me to just be the way the innings unfolded which dictated that.

          I think you’re reaching to try to make these circumstances fit into the broader narrative of Smith poorly handling spinners.

          And this is coming from someone who has heavily criticised Smith’s use of spinners repeatedly in the past.

          • Roar Guru

            June 8th 2017 @ 4:10pm
            Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

            Well Anyways, the game against England will give us the answer. I just hope that he uses the leggie much more against England.

            • Roar Guru

              June 8th 2017 @ 4:12pm
              Paul D said | June 8th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

              If Smith was skipper against England in 1993 in the first test he’d have hidden Warne away from Gatting, kept Julian on for another spell and got Mark Waugh to send down some mediums

              • June 8th 2017 @ 7:40pm
                James said | June 8th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

                That is more of an example of truly brilliant mindbogglingly fantastic captaincy though, Warne was a nobody and Gatting was quite good at dealing with spinners. If Smith had been the captain then no one would have said wtf mate about not bowling Warne to Gatting.

    • June 8th 2017 @ 3:53pm
      DavSA said | June 8th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

      Smith has copped it often enough in the past for not fully trusting in his spin attack and imo justifiably . But not in this game against Bangladesh . He was up against a ticking weather clock and the match situation demanded that he decide who could wrap the innings up most effectively . History now tells us he made the right call . Give him some credit I think.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2017 @ 4:21pm
        Giri Subramanian said | June 8th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

        We may never know if using Zampa would have hastened the proceedings or not. Even though Head bowled a miserly spell, Tamim and Shakib had a partnership of 69 runs in about 14 overs before Head dismissed Shakib. Even though that spell of play was economical, it did not hasten the Bangladesh innings. Zampa was brought in in the 35th over when another partnership was developing between Shabbir and Tamim. Zampa got Shabbir out in his first over and mahmudullah out in his next. He bowled 4 overs and got two wickets and then Starc came later in the innings and cleaned up the rest. Lets give Smith the benefit of doubt this time and hope he uses Zampa more effectively against England.

    , ,