March 20, 2019 / 1:14 AM / a month ago

Cricket - Australia's Zampa still not counting on World Cup spot

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The clamour in Australia to include Adam Zampa in the Cricket World Cup squad has reached fever pitch after his strong series in India but the legspinner feels his place is far from assured.

Cricket - Australia v South Africa - first ODI cricket match - Centurion Park, Centurion, South Africa - 30/9/2016. Australia's Adam Zampa plays a delivery by South Africa's Dale Steyn. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The 26-year-old from Shellharbour, New South Wales, played a key role in the 3-2 series comeback victory over Virat Kohli’s side, taking 11 wickets at an average of 25.81 to outduel India’s spinners on their own pitches and claim second on the wicket-taking list behind seamer Pat Cummins.

It was a far cry from Zampa’s first tour of India in 2017 when hard-hitting India all-rounder Hardik Pandya took to him with a gusto and declared he could “hit a six off him anytime”.

“Throughout my short career I’ve found it can change really quickly,” Zampa told reporters ahead of Australia’s first training session in Sharjah ahead of the ODI series against Pakistan.

“I started my career really well, but I’ve had some ups and downs.

“So (I’m) trying to build on the momentum I have would be great — I know what it’s like to be in and out of the team and be dropped from the squad altogether.

“(I’m) just trying to make the most of my position at the moment ... I guess taking it one series at a time — it’s a bit of a cliché, but that’s how it is.”

Australia won the 2015 World Cup on home soil without a specialist slow bowler but wrist-spinners have become a must-have in 50-over cricket and occupy half of the top-10 bowlers in the ICC world rankings for the format.

Zampa, who relies less on sharp turn and drift and more on attacking the stumps with deliveries that skid off the pitch, bowled well in tandem with offspinner Nathan Lyon in India.

The pair are expected to continue their dual spin assault against Pakistan in the five matches in the United Arab Emirates. The first match starts on Friday in Sharjah.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand and just say we’re going with fast bowlers when spinners in world cricket, and in one-day cricket in particular, are being very, very successful,” selector Trevor Hohns said earlier this week.

Batting team mate Shaun Marsh felt Zampa had improved “out of sight” in the leadup to the May 30-July 14 World Cup.

“It’s just his control now, he’s a bit more mature,” he said.

“He’s got a bit more of an understanding of what he’s trying to do out there.

“I thought he did a fantastic job in all the games (in India) and he took wickets at key times. He’s going to be a big part of this team moving forward.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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