Courtesy The News International
MELBOURNE: Australia’s search for a successor to Shane Warne is yet to bear fruit nearly a decade after he retired, so Adam Zampa is naturally wary about comparisons with the leg-spinning great.
The 24-year-old has been picked in Australia’s squad for the triangular one-day international tournament in the Caribbean and will battle off-spinner Nathan Lyon and slow-bowling all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for a place against West Indies and South Africa.
Unheralded only a few months ago, Zampa first made his mark in the most unusual of circumstances when he ‘ran out’ a batsman with his nose when playing for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s ‘Big Bash’ league.
A good performance in the that tournament led to a spot in Australia’s World Twenty20 squad and after making his ODI debut against New Zealand in February, Zampa impressed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at new franchise Rising Pune Supergiants.
His bowling action and run-up have been compared to Warne’s, which has further fuelled the hype, but the New South Welshman says that is where the similarities end.
“There’s only ever going to be one Shane Warne,” Zampa told Australian media.
“The attributes he had, how strong he was, his leg-spinner was unbelievable and to be able to bowl that leg-spinner for as long as he did for five days for his whole career was something unbelievable.
“People do look at me and think I look a lot like him but I think the only thing that would be similar is the smoother run-up. It’s a nice comparison but I don’t really think about it that way.”
Since Warne’s retirement after the final Ashes test against England in 2007, Australian selectors have barely flirted with leg-spin.
Victorian Bryce McGain lasted one test in 2009, promptly discarded after going wicketless for 149 runs against South Africa in Cape Town.
Early in his career, incumbent captain Steve Smith was picked as a leg-spinning all-rounder against England in the 2010-11 series but later shelved his bowling to concentrate on becoming an elite batsman.
Left-arm wrist-spinner Beau Casson briefly stepped into the spotlight when he was selected for a match against West Indies on the 2008 tour but duly fell into a form rut and was never looked at again.
Lyon has since cemented himself as Australia’s premier slow bowler and Zampa missed out on a place in the test squad to tour Sri Lanka in July and August.
Zampa, however, hopes to impress ahead of next year’s tour of India, where he has shown his comfort with South Asian pitches.
“The white ball at the moment is probably something I’m concentrating on but if I keep improving, I feel like it doesn’t matter what format you’re playing,” he said.
Australia play the first ODI against West Indies in Providence, Guyana on June 5.