Adam Zampa’s impressive form and dominant T20 record in India makes him Australia’s key bowler for the T20 series starting today in Visakhapatnam.
The leg spinner clearly loves bowling in India, where he’s taken 26 wickets at an average of 14 in the shortest format, with an outstanding economy rate of 6.8 runs per over.
Zampa helped Australia to a commanding win in his most recent T20 in India, taking 2-19 from four overs as the Aussies cruised to an eight-wicket win.
Since then, however, the 26-year-old has since been treated poorly by the Australian selectors, despite being easily the best performed T20 spinner in the country, with 93 wickets at 15 over the past three years.
Yet since that starring effort in his last T20 in India, Zampa has featured in only eight of Australia’s 19 matches. Often in that period Australia have chosen to go pace-heavy. The Australian selectors seem to have ignored the way in which spinners have become the kings of T20 cricket.
Quite remarkably, spinners account for nine of the top ten ranked T20 bowlers in the world, with Zampa sitting at sixth in those rankings despite missing so many matches in the past 18 months.
Wrist spin, in particular, has become the biggest weapon in T20s, making up five of the top six ranked bowlers. Over the past five years Australia have given opportunities to several wrist spinners – Zampa, Mitchell Swepson, Cameron Boyce and James Muirhead.
But they have never stuck with one of those bowlers and given them a prolonged run in the side. With the World T20 tournament coming up in October next year, Australia now need to invest heavily in at least one wrist spinner. Zampa is the obvious choice.
Over the course of the just-completed Big Bash League Zampa showed that he was in fine fettle.
The two keys to Zampa’s bowling – the things which let you know he’s on song – are his length and the release of his wrong ‘un. When he is at his peak Zampa’s wrong ‘un fizzes out of the back of his hand with as many revolutions as his leg break.
Because he is not a huge turner of the ball, this variation is crucial to keep the batsman guessing. Even more important, however, is his ability to skid the ball on to the batsman from an in-between length.
When he locates this length consistently batsmen have a hard time advancing to him but also find it difficult to cut or pull.
This is pivotal against the Indian batsmen, in particular, who are so adept at using their feet to manipulate the lengths of spinners.
Zampa is the only Australian spinner who has consistently bowled well in white ball cricket against Indian superstars Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
None of that trio have been able to get after him with any regularity, whether in T20Is or in the IPL.
It is that trio of gun batsmen who loom large over this two-match series in India.
Granted, the Indians have a host of other high-quality T20 batsmen, but if Australia can find a way to limit the damage caused by Kohli, Rohit and Dhawan, they should be competitive in this series.
Zampa is the key to achieving this difficult task.