Adam Zampa's heroics played a major role in helping Australia's men's team lift the T20 World Cup trophy for the first time. His uncanny ability to halt the flow of runs and take important wickets at critical moments has had a huge bearing on Australia's fortunes.
Ranked No.5 for ICC T20 bowlers, Zampa lived up to his stature by proving Australia had the best spin bowler in the tournament on their hands.
Zampa's role in this tournament
Zampa played as a gritty, hearty bowler that made every ball and moment count.
As a much-loved character, he continually made a dependable contribution in the middle overs through his ability to curtail the opposition's run rate. The fruits of his work have been on show with a miserly economy rate of just 5.81 from 27 overs bowled.
But Zampa took wickets at incredibly vital intervals as well. He's taken at least one wicket in each of his past 13 matches, which extends to series before the World Cup too.
In the World Cup Final, he dispatched Martin Guptill for 28 of 35 balls, denying the Kiwi batter a chance to rectify his strike rate in the latter overs.
Likewise, in the semi-final against Pakistan, Zampa's wicket of Babar Azam proved to be the pivotal moment of Australia's bowling innings. Ending Pakistan's commanding start of 71/0 was Australia's first instance of wrestling momentum back in that match.
In the group stage, he dismantled Bangladesh's batting line-up, finishing with 5/19 (the best figures in the whole tournament by any bowler). That allowed Australia's batting order to advance their net run rate considerably in the chase and finish second in their group.
Australia's narrow victory over South Africa raised a plethora of "what-ifs." Zampa's wickets of David Miller and Dwayne Pretorius in the latter overs of that match proved immensely important in limiting South Africa to a meager total of 118. Australia barely scraped through in that game, winning with just two balls to spare and nearly jeopardizing their chances of playing in the finals if they had they perished then.
Zampa is Finch's man of the tournament
Australian captain Aaron Finch - speaking to SEN Breakfast - said Zampa was his man of the tournament:
“Zampa’s been unbelievable. “His skill is so high. His confidence in his ability to get good players out. The way that he bowled, for me, he was man of the tournament. Davey (Warner) pipped him at the post at the end there, but he was fantastic," he said.
With the World Cup being played in the sub-continent, spinners in particular had been identified as potentially being the main difference makers, but it was Zampa's footprint on the Australian side that proved to be the most valuable.
Speaking after the game, Zampa said he always looked forward to making use of the low and dry wickets characteristic of the UAE. As a cool and calm-natured character, he also said that those who underestimated him allowed him to thrive.
Zampa's tally of 13 wickets was a truly outstanding display, second only to Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (16 wickets). Wanindu's individual tournament was unblemished, but he had no bearing on the how the World Cup unfolded in the way Zampa did.
With the top five bowlers in the ICC T20 rankings all being wrist-spinners, they have been revealed to be a valuable asset in the format now more than ever. Zampa's performances in this World Cup increased the attractability of T20 cricket by evening out the battle between bat and ball.
However, it seems the weight of an incredible performance with the ball is still seldom recognized in comparison to batters. David Warner was declared the man of the tournament at this year's World Cup, notching up a total of 289 runs and an average of 48.16.
The historical trend is that those with brutal batting prowess will continue to win this title. Virat Kohli was man of the tournament in 2014 and 2016, after Shane Watson (2012), Kevin Pietersen (2010) Tillakaratne Dilshan (2009) and Shahid Afridi (2007).
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Zampa has played 64 ODIs and 57 T20Is, with an average of 32.11 and 21.15 respectively. At 29 years old, Zampa's heroics at the World Cup ensured his place as a mainstay of the Australian men's side in white-ball cricket for years to come.