While his prowess as one of the best spinners in the world in white-ball cricket is uncontested, Adam Zampa’s bid to play Test cricket for his country still remains a "dream". He returned to first-class cricket in a bid to one day have the Baggy Green around his head and saw the upcoming tour of India as the perfect platform.
However, Zampa, who picked up three wickets on his return for New South Wales against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield, was overlooked for the Tests. In fact, uncapped 22-year-old spinner Todd Murphy, who has played just seven first-class matches was considered ahead of Zampa, who has 108 wickets from 39 games.
While expressing disappointment after missing out, Zampa says that he still remains passionate about playing in whites for his country.
“I like playing cricket, it's so important to me. I'm obviously disappointed about not being there. I would have loved that challenge. I like the idea of playing Test cricket, I love to play for my country in Test cricket, so that's still a burning desire,” Zampa said in an exclusive chat with Cricket.com.
“I would just like to continue playing cricket. There's an opportunity there in the Sheffield Shield. I'm only 30, I think putting white-ball cricket first is important but not without compromising the opportunity to play some red-ball cricket.”
Having said that, Zampa said that he really enjoyed returning to red-ball cricket as it helps him get into rhythm.
“I enjoyed my return to some extent. Red-ball cricket has never really been my biggest strength. I haven't played a lot of it. So, I've never been able to get into a rhythm with it and play a lot of games and that's probably been the hardest thing about it,” Zampa who picked up nine wickets in four matches at an economy rate of under five, said.
“I feel like playing red-ball cricket though is a really good way to adapt into white-ball cricket because you bowl a lot, you can work on things and you can also can get into a good rhythm. When you're playing just T20 cricket sometimes you don't play enough to feel like you've done enough bowling.
“Playing red-ball game is good because I just feel like you go from that to white-ball cricket you've just got overs under your belt and good rhythm.”
Speaking of the ILT20, Zampa is really pleased with talent of the local cricketers and also the associate world.
“I've been here for a limited time. I've seen a couple of games been played. They've been quite impressive. We've got a couple of quick bowlers in the team that have done a really good job. Chirag Suri as well looks like a good player. In one of the games I played with him, he batted for a little bit and he looked like he knew how to hold it,” Zampa said.
“We played one game against the Desert Vipers and they had an off-spinner, a mystery spinner who nailed his yorkers as well. So, there are definitely some skillful local players.”
Zampa is no stranger to putting up a show in the Middle East. He finished the 2021 T20 World Cup as the second-highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps at an economy rate of 5.81 as Australia went on to conquer the T20 world. However, things did not go to plan the following year at home as they crashed out in the Super 12 stage.
Analysing Australia’s exit, Zampa says, "It's a fickle game (T20 cricket). Looking back at the tournament, we definitely were not playing at our best. We got washed out against England and if that game went ahead and we played well that day, turned it on and won that game, we would potentially go on and win the World Cup and England are knocked out of the semi-final."
“Really disappointed with the way we played. We also understand that T20 is the kind of cricket that can go either way. We got blasted out of the park in the first game. We have a really good record against New Zealand, especially in Australia. I don't think they have really beaten us but Finn Allen took it to us in the first 4-5 overs and that really just put us on the back foot for the whole World Cup.”
While the 89-run loss against New Zealand certainly did dent Australia’s net run-rate, they still had a chance to turn things around especially against Ireland. Chasing 180, the Irish were reduced to 25 for 5 after four overs, before Lorcan Tucker (71*) took on the bowling to further diminish Australia’s hopes, eventually falling short by just 42 runs.
To further add to their woes, they managed to eke out a closely-fought four-run win over Afghanistan to end their campaign, with Zampa managing just five wickets from three outings.
Skipping ahead, Zampa was entrusted with the responsibility of leading Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League (BBL) in the absence of Glenn Maxwell. While the Stars finished bottom of the table with just three wins, Zampa, who picked up 16 wickets in the tournament, was in the headlines for a different reason.
He ran out Tom Rogers, who had walked out of the crease at the non-striker’s end. The ICC had recently declared that as a legitimate run-out, but the rule also stated that the bowler has to knock the bails off before he completes the action, which Zampa had not done.
Was he aware of that? “No, I wasn't. I was surprised because the umpire said straightaway that I don't think that's going to be out. You took your action too far. I had no idea about that rule and I'm glad I know it now,” Zampa said of the dismissal.
It however once again sparked the debate of whether it was within the spirit of the game, despite the bowler being well within his rights to as Zampa did.
“The mindset is starting to change already. I didn't have a lot of backlash from it. People see it as a controversial thing but I actually had a lot of people says that it's within the rules, basically backing the decision,” Zampa reckons.
“I don't know if they are going to change the rule or if there's a way around it, but I think as long as batsmen are aware...I think it's gotten to a point where sometimes...I'm a tailender, when I'm at the non-striker's end, I'm doing everything I can to make sure that I'm running up and back to make sure that the batsman can be back on strike.
“I've always made sure that I look at the ball and when the ball is released I can start running. Just going to be smart about it. If you try and get an advantage in some way and someone picks you up on it while you are out of your crease, then I think it's a run-out,” the leg-spinner further explained.
Zampa will link up with Ravichandran Ashwin in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 for Rajasthan Royals (RR) with whom he perhaps can discuss at length over that dismissal. The off-spinner had run Jos Buttler out in a similar fashion in IPL 2019 and the two are now teammates at the Royals.
The wily leggie has made an impact in the IPL previously, that also includes figures of 6 for 19 in 2016, when he turned up for Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS).
Speaking of his excitement of joining RR, Zampa said, “I really love the idea of playing for the Rajasthan Royals, it's always been a club that I've been attracted to for whatever reason, maybe the Shane Warne factor, one of my heroes. He played there and was their inaugural captain. I don't know what it is about RR, but I appreciate the opportunity to play in the IPL again. I'm happy it's for Rajasthan.”
Starting with the ODIs against India, starting March 17, followed by IPL 2023, Zampa’s stay in India will be a long one. He may not have complained if it was a tad longer with the Test series had he had a crack of donning the elusive Baggy Green. As things stand, it could be a long, long wait.
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