If you told a leg spinner years ago when T20 cricket first came onto the scene that they may be crowned the player of the tournament at a T20 World Cup, they would’ve said that you were mad. But for Australia’s Adam Zampa, it could soon become a reality if he can lead his side to the crown tomorrow night.
Having been a key member of Australia’s limited-overs sides for the past few years, it’s little surprise that Zampa has continued to improve. But while he continues to take crucial wickets in this tournament, the leg spinner says he is used to flying under the radar.
“I’ve always been underestimated, even as a 15-year-old in the country, there was always a city guy who was better than me, or someone who turns their leg spinner more than I do,” Zampa said.
“In the next series coming up I’ll be underestimated again, so I do thrive off that.”
Zampa’s situation sums up his entire team in this T20 World Cup. The Australian side was written off due to a poor last 12 months in the format, slumping to series defeats against the West Indies and Bangladesh and to a lowly seventh on the world T20 rankings.
But they have shocked many in storming through to the World Cup final, where they are to face a New Zealand side who are used to going deep in ICC tournaments.
The Australians last came up against the Kiwis in a World Cup final as recently as 2015, where an older Aussie side bullied past New Zealand at the MCG to win comfortably.
This time around, Zampa doesn’t think his side can intimidate the Black Caps and win as easily.
“New Zealand have something about them, they’ve made finals in other formats and they’re a formidable challenge,” he said.
“They beat us back in February/ March, so we won’t be inside their heads, they’re led well and have good experience.”
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Zampa has rarely been beaten this tournament, taking plenty of wickets during the middle overs as he fights as the lone primary spinner in Australia’s side. Without any formal preparation leading into the competition, Zampa says his low-key training for the World Cup was perfect.
“It was a weird lead up, the preparation was put in my own hands which was nice, I did a lot of training at home and came in mentally fresh,” Zampa said.
“This tournament in particular I’ve tried not to be something that I’m not, I know what my strengths are and I try to do them to the best of my ability.”
Always the team man, the leg spinner was forced to watch on from the grandstands as his good mates in Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade put on a clinical match-winning partnership in the semi-final win over Pakistan. Although it was a thrilling watch for many Australians, Zampa could only find one way to describe the tense final overs.
“Stressful,” he said.
“It’s hard when you want something so much and two really good friends are out there in the middle.”
“I wanted them to do well and finish the game off, obviously it was a big game and the crowd was roaring, so it was stressful but it was a great finish.”
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