Adam Zampa has quietly become Australia’s best white-ball spinner by mastering variations in flight and encouraging the batsmen to go after him.
In the T20 game, wrist-spinners are so often match-winners, and skippers are prepared to let them play with a few runs to bag them some wickets.
Zampa often lures batsmen into trying to play cross-batted strokes, believing that his turn is slow and predictable, but his variations in speed and flight catch them off guard.
The Aussie leg-spinner loves to see batsmen charging at him, and he can expect excellent support in the form of sharp gloveman Alex Carey.
In two previous T20Is in South Africa, Zampa went wicketless, but those were back in 2016, and he has since grown as a bowler despite remaining diminutive in stature. This was showcased in the first T20I at the Wanderers on Friday.
Ahead of the series against the Proteas, Zampa sported an impressive career T20 economy rate of 6.15 per over.
Zampa is the highest-ranked Australian bowler in the ICC’s T20I rankings, but often the focus is drawn by the array of fast bowlers their selectors have to choose from. And now, of course, hat-trick hero Ashton Agar as well.
Zampa’s white-ball prowess and exploits in the Big Bash League and IPL have ensured that he is no longer really compared to Shane Warne.
Still, you can see the effect that Warne has had on Zampa, and it is only natural that he would look up to a great of the game who practised the same craft. Warne was able to torment South Africa in any conditions, and though he operates in different ways, Zampa is capable of adjusting his game to suit the match environment.
Zampa uses his variations sparingly, fishing for wickets with a patient set-up of slow leg-breaks, occasional googlies and the wicket-taking quicker ball deployed once he feels he has the batsman set up.
It is tough to counter a bowler who wants batsmen to go after him without hamstringing your own game by being too defensive. The Proteas should be sticking to the coaching manual – getting to the pitch of the ball and look to hit straight.
They should avoid dropping into the default of sweeping and reverse-sweeping without thought.
The Proteas must be aware of the threat that the baby-faced assassin Zampa brings to the table.
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