Zampa: Dot Balls the Key


Dot balls are the currency T20 bowlers deal in. Essex’s overseas leggie has sent down 23 of his 66 deliveries in this fledgling Vitality Blast campaign without a run being hit off them.

In the bish, bash, bosh world of T20 cricket, he even managed the rarity of bowling a maiden over against Surrey, a wicket maiden at that, only the third he has recorded in a career of 118 matches and nearly 400 overs. It is a feat akin to a batsman scoring a century.

“I’ll take that!” the 27-year-old Australian white-ball international says eagerly. “I’m happy to say I’ve got three centuries! It’s a good feeling to bowl a maiden, particularly in such a high-scoring game as that one was. We got over 220 – and it was only a 15-over game. Once you bowl a maiden, and the asking rate goes up, it’s game-changing, particularly when you’ve got guys at the other end like Aaron Finch who can potentially win the game for the opposition.

“Yes, dot balls are very important. I’m not the kind of guy who will blast teams out; I’m not the kind of guy who will get three wickets in an over. I’m more the kind of bowler who builds pressure and does it that way.

“Dot balls tend to turn to wickets. In the role I’m playing here I’m finding myself bowling throughout the innings. I usually bowling an over of power play, a couple in the middle and one towards the end. So it’s important to keep taking wickets the whole time. Sometimes you aren’t going to get them yourself, so it’s important that you close out overs to make it easier for the guy at the other end.”

The guys at the other end when Essex play Hampshire at The Cloudfm County Ground on Thursday (7pm) will include Mohammad Amir. It is a double-whammy for Essex. As he showed when he turned out for the county in the 2017 season, his economy rate then was often below even his impressive career average of 6.75 runs per over.

“It’ll be exciting to have Mo on the field for the first time,” says Zampa. “We’ve probably missed him the first couple of games. He’ll make a huge difference in the power play for us and he’s going to be really important at the death. Having him at the other end is probably going to help me: maybe I’ll become more of a wicket-taking option for the team and my role might be a little bit different now.

“He got a five-fer against us [Australia] in the World Cup, so I was able to watch that and realise just how good he really is.”

After a disappointing World Cup in which Zampa played just four games, and Australia were knocked out in the semi-final by England, all eyes turn to the Ashes. In particular, in this part of the country, they will focus on Peter Siddle, Essex’s Aussie seamer, recalled to arms at the age of 34 for his sixth Ashes campaign.

“I’m really stoked for him,” Zampa says of his close friend. “It’s a good story. He’s been in and out of the team, but he got his opportunity in Test cricket again last year. He really appreciates the opportunity that Essex have given him. I think if it wasn’t for that, he probably wouldn’t be in the Ashes squad. He’s definitely benefited from his time over here.”

As for the series itself, Zampa says: “I think the top orders are what will define the series. Steve Smith is huge. He’s on a different level to everyone else. Him batting at No4, Usman Khawaja at three, David Warner opening; England don’t have a lot of Test match experience compared to that top order. I think that could have a huge bearing on the series.”