Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa will be a key man for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred this summer. Here he looks forward to being part of the exciting new tournament - and trying to make himself a favourite with the legendary Hollies Stand at Edgbaston...
Birmingham Phoenix head coach Andrew McDonald is regarded as one of the most astute cricket minds in the world. He is a man you know well?
I’ve had a bit of a past with Andrew, actually. I used to play with him for South Australia and I enjoyed his leadership there. I’m really excited about playing under him at Birmingham. He has a really good cricket mind. Unfortunately his Renegades beat us in the Big Bash last year so he has a pretty good coaching record already. I’m very excited about working with Andrew.
Spinners have proven very valuable in short formats. The Hundred is even shorter, putting more pressure on batsmen to go harder. Does that mean leg-spinners with their variations have an even bigger role?
I think leg-spinners will have a huge role. We’ve seen in the development of T20 cricket the way leg-spinners have become so vital. At the start of T20 cricket I think people underestimated spinners but we’re a smart bunch. We’re a wily clever bunch of guys and leg-spin, and that ability to spin it both ways, will be important in The Hundred.
Ravi Bopara, who you played alongside at Essex, is among your Phoenix team-mates. Ravi helped the Eagles win the Blast at Edgbaston in 2019 so has good recent memories of the place. A good guy to have on your side?
I absolutely love playing with Ravi. He’s one of my favourite team-mates that I have ever played with. He’s an absolute character and probably some of my best memories of playing with him for Essex at Chelmsford was hearing the crowd roar his name. It’s not like anything I’ve heard before.
In The Hundred the ten-ball over option is probably not something a quick will relish, but for a spinner are there opportunities to exploit match-ups?
It’s an interesting concept. It has been said a lot that spinners are going to play a huge role so those match-ups, and the way the captains are thinking about it and coaches are going to explore that tactic, will be really interesting. There will be times when players aren’t the best against spin and that will be an opportunity but I think there will be options with the new ball as well.
You were a late draft pick, compared to other leg-spinners and international players – does that take the pressure off a bit and make you more determined to show you should have gone earlier?
I was one of the later draft picks for Birmingham. I wasn’t disappointed, I’m excited about being a part of The Hundred and when you look back to the draft now there were only 24 overseas players so to have an opportunity to be one of those is really exciting for me. I’m not feeling any pressure, I’ll just be who I am and, the way that my cricket career has gone, I always seem to be feeling that extra pressure anyway. Nothing is going to change.
Which team do you see as the biggest challenger to Birmingham?
There are some pretty strong squads and the one that comes to mind first is the Welsh Fire. I think they’ve got a really good mix of top-order power hitting. I have played a lot against Tom Banton over the last couple of years and he is definitely one to watch and then obviously Jonny Bairstow as well. They’ve got some really good spinners as well so if I had to choose one team to watch out for other than Birmingham it would be them.
You missed Finals Day with Essex due to Australia commitments last summer but you know what the atmosphere is like at Edgbaston – what will you do to make yourself a favourite in the Hollies Stand?
I’m excited about playing in front of the Hollies Stand. I’m not sure how I’m going to win the fans over just yet but it is one of the things that excited me the most about playing for Birmingham and at Edgbaston. So far I’ve only had bad experiences at Edgbaston playing for Australia so hopefully I can turn that around. I can’t wait to be a part of that atmosphere. It’s definitely one of the best atmospheres that I have played cricket in and I’m looking forward to being on the team they’re supporting.