Saturday February 24, 2024

Adam Zampa: Australia’s tattooed leg-spinner making his mark

November 01, 2023
Australias Adam Zampa celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam. — AFP
Australia's Adam Zampa celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam. — AFP

NEW DELHI: With a John Travolta tattoo, trademark playing glasses and bonding with Virat Kohli over being meat-free, Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa has become one of the standout stars of the Cricket World Cup.

The 31-year-old has also overcome absent-mindedly swimming into a hotel swimming pool wall and recovered from a fever so severe that he was dubbed “Lazarus” by teammates.

With a joint tournament best of 16 wickets, Zampa is a crucial part of Australia´s push towards a sixth World Cup title. However, his time in India did not get off to the most promising of starts.

He went wicketless in his team´s opening loss to the hosts and then managed just one in their thrashing by South Africa. Since then, however, Zampa´s success has mirrored that of his team as four successive wins have put Australia on the brink of the semi-finals.

He claimed four wickets each in the team´s next three wins and 3-74 in a last-ball thriller against New Zealand in Dharamsala. Zampa, a self-confessed Shane Warne fan, has an action similar to the late Australian spin great but has long rejected being a Warne clone.

“I´m very good at self-reflection,” said Zampa after the win over Sri Lanka. In his career, he has needed that quality, none more so than in September when he returned the joint worst ODI figures of 0-113 against South Africa at Centurion.

Zampa had an injury scare at the start of Australia´s campaign in India when he hit a wall while swimming with his eyes closed. That left him with a nasty-looking scar on his face.

Zampa returned figures of 4-47 as Australia downed Sri Lanka by five wickets for their first win in the tournament but revealed he had played the match despite suffering back spasms.

Zampa also had to deal with fever after his back spasms but rattled Pakistan´s batting including the key wickets of skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to help his team come up trumps in a high-scoring match.

“Yeah, ´Lazarus´ (Adam Zampa) has been awesome,” Australia skipper Pat Cummins said. “He´s been in the bed for the last week or two. He was fantastic, and he just showed his class. He´s a real wicket-taker in the middle.”

Zampa, born in Shellharbour, New South Wales, has bagged 158 ODI wickets at an economy rate of 5.57 and owns 11 four-wicket hauls. He has also played 73 Twenty20 internationals since 2016 but still awaits a Test debut.

The bespectacled Zampa plays wearing glasses after ditching contact lenses. He has also followed a vegan diet since 2013 and bonded with Indian superstar Kohli at the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League.

Zampa was picked by the Royal Challengers Bangalore and captain Kohli, a vegetarian, welcomed the Australian with a voucher for a vegan restaurant in the United Arab Emirates during the Covid pandemic.

“Waking up every day and not having that guilty conscience, knowing that you´re not affecting any animals out there,” Zampa said.

“The environment as well is pretty important to me.” But it´s not just cricket and veganism for the cricketer.

Amongst his tattoos is an image of John Travolta dancing in cult movie “Pulp Fiction”. Another is a tribute to late Australian cricketer Phil Hughes.

“I don´t really see myself as a cricketer. I see myself as quite a cultured person,” Zampa told the BBC in an interview. “I have a lot of thoughts about life. I think about things a little bit differently to other people.”