Here's the A To Z of why little-known Australian spin bowler Adam Zampa just became the most important sportsman in Australia overnight without lifting a finger.
Adam Zampa is the key to Australia's World Twenty20 success because this tournament will be won by the team that bowls spin better than anyone else. This we strongly suspected before the tournament. Now it appears certain after New Zealand upset hosts India in Nagpur on Tuesday night.
New Zealand beating India on a typically bone dry, turning Indian pitch seemed about as likely as India beating the All Blacks in a haka. But New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson took a huge gamble that paid off.
He told two of the world's best pace bowlers -- Trent Boult and Tim Southee -- that they could have the night off. And he picked three spinners to spearhead his bowling attack. Yes three, two of whom you've probably never heard of. And the ploy worked. India was all out for 79 chasing a modest 126. Genius.
And so, it now falls to Australia's spinners to work their magic. Nathan Lyon is not in the squad. Selectors opted to keep him fresh for Tests and other duties. Out two spinners are Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. The latter you may remember from his Ashes batting heroics a few years back. But who's this Zampa character?
Let's start with the glass-half-empty view. Adam Zampa is a 23-year-old leg spinner who has never taken an international Twenty20 wicket for Australia. Nope, not one. In fairness he has only played two matches. And in those matches he's been hard to hit, which is a crucial role of any T20 bowler.
South Africa T20 captain Faf du Plessis was full of praise for the young man from Shellharbour, just south of Wollongong in New South Wales.
"He bowled really well. I was really impressed with his consistency. Obviously he's got a lot of variation, but his main objective was to just land a ball on a good length and keep it away from us to hit it.," du Plessis said.
But Australia will need more than a bowler who can stem the run flow. We need wicket takers. Zampa is that. He finished sixth on the list of wicket takers in the most recent Big Bash. Notably, he was one of just two spinners on the list and the other was an Englishman. So in other words, he's clearly our most dangerous T20 spinner.
Zampa has a strong cricketing heritage. His father Darren was a leggie who represented NSW Country. Zampa himself was chosen in Australian Under-19 squads earlier in his career. He has a good head. He captained his Sydney grade club Sutherland when he was just 21.
But above all, Zampa is one of those players who just seems to make his own luck. Sport is too often reduced to cold statistics these days. You can't quantify the aura of a guy like Adam Zampa. Good things just seem to happen when he's on the field. And you know he'll bleed for his team. Literally.
Australian skipper Steve Smith is a fan. The two know each other well, having come through their early grade and state cricket careers together.
“I don’t think our young spinners are a weakness for us at all. I think they’re very confident in their skill sets," Smith recently said. “They’ve proven themselves. They’ve bowled really well in big games so I don’t see them as a weakness at all.
“I’ve seen him come along way and I’ve seen him learn and develop really well and hopefully he can bowl really for us in this World Cup."
Hopefully Ashton Agar can chip in too. If so, Australia might just achieve a unique cricketing tripel crown. We're the current Test and One Day champions. No country has ever held all three titles.
Adam Zampa is a handy batsman too, buy the way. He once hit a six to win a Big Bash match for the Adelaide Strikers. But for now, he would no doubt like just one international T20 wicket. He'd no longer be the butt of jokes after that.Suggest a correction