MITCHELL JOHNSON: Shane Warne and Adam Zampa share a common trait in their bowling made clear at T20 World Cup

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
Aadam Zampa and Shane Warne.
Aadam Zampa and Shane Warne. Credit: Getty Images

Australia captain Mitch Marsh nominated spinner Adam Zampa as their most important player ahead of the T20 World Cup and he got that right.

Zampa was clinical as he cleaned up Namibia on Wednesday, with his 4-12 off four overs making him the first Australian man to reach 100 Twenty20 international wickets.

He also became Australia’s leading wicket-taker in men’s T20 World Cups, passing Mitchell Starc’s 29 scalps.

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When Australia were drawn to play their group matches in the West Indies, we knew that spin would probably be key on the pitches over there. Although Barbados can be fast and bouncy on occasions, the majority of what we are seeing so far has been good for the spin bowlers.

And Zampa isn’t your standard off-spinner like we tend to see in most teams in T20 and one-day cricket. The leg-spinner has the skill of variations that differ from the finger spinners.

The 32-year-old’s century of wickets has underlined his excellent record for Australia. He is a bowler who regularly stands up at the big tournaments, seizes the big moments and gets out the best opposition batsmen.

But talk this week of Zampa being Australia’s best ever white-ball spinner is off the mark. He might have the hair, the sunnies and the earrings, but that’s where the comparisons with the King of Spin should end.

And in the end, Zampa has done it his way. He is creating his own name which to me is what cricket should be about.

Shane Warne never played T20 international cricket but his achievements in the one-day international arena speaks for itself. He did dabble in a bit of T20 too and even at the age of 38 – and five years after his ODI retirement – Warne took 19 wickets to lead the Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural Indian Premier League title.

Zampa has really come into his own over the past few years in the shortest format. His improvement and confidence has been noticeable.

While there’s no big spinning leg-breaks like Warnie had, Zampa does share a key trait with Warne and that is masterful control and accuracy. Zampa draws batsmen into false shots by setting them up with different paced deliveries and subtle variation of line and length.

Zampa knows and plays his role and has the backing of his captains who have confidence in him and his plans, which then reinforces his own belief in himself.

He sets fields that suit his bowling and even when he bowls a bad ball, he is able to minimise the potential bad outcome. Zampa now has confidence that he is more likely to bowl good balls, and with the bad ball that does come, he is able keep it to one side of the pitch to minimise the fours and sixes.

Obviously as a bowler in T20 cricket, wickets are key. But dots and ones are gold also because that builds pressure.

Being a leg-spinner isn’t easy in any form of the game. In Australia, our leggies then cop the additional pressure of being compared to Warne.

Zampa has done well to learn his craft by listening and doing. Patience has been key also, knowing it takes time to get the best out of yourself. He backs himself with the knowledge he has now built through experience and the rewards are coming.

While he is no Warnie, he is our most successful T20 bowler and deservedly so.

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