Adam Zampa: Australia 'can learn a lot' from Englandby Daniel Brettig
Amid the pain, there was also admiration from Adam Zampa as he assessed how England had stolen a victory from under Australian noses for the third time in little more than a year across all three formats.
At Headingley last year in Tests, in Southampton during the T20I leg of this tour and in Manchester on Sunday night, Australia were in positions of total dominance, only to have games snatched from them by outstanding English resilience and greater composure in the prevailing conditions.
It is a pattern that has contributed to some highly entertaining and undulating cricket, but one that will rankle no end with Australia's decision-makers, not least the coach Justin Langer. But Zampa's counsel was that once the emotions subsided, the Australians could learn from how England were aggressive in all they did once the tourists had boxed them into a couple of corners.
In the second ODI on Sunday, Tom Curran and Adil Rashid first went on the attack with the bat, after the fashion their captain Eoin Morgan had briefly hinted at earlier in the innings. Next, Morgan bravely went for it with his new ball pair of Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes when Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne were well set, and trusted that the rest of the attack could do the job if they broke through. In both cases the Australian response was a little hazy and defensive. The result: a dramatic England victory.
"It says that England are a really good cricket team," Zampa said. "They're really adaptable. Their one-day cricket over the last four or five years has been unbelievable: they're really attacking with the bat and they do the job with the ball as well. But they read the conditions really well and they adapt, their bowlers literally hit the top of off stump the whole time, and they're really disciplined. I think England are a really good cricket team and we can learn a lot from them.
ALSO READ: 'No excuse' for Australia as they fulfill their own pessimistic prophecy
"Cricket's never easy to watch because everyone really wants to win and we were so close to winning a series with a game to spare. When you're watching that happen, it's never easy, but it's hard to say... when Marnus and Finchy were batting really well, you feel like you're a little bit comfortable almost, but you also know that the wicket was getting tired and up and down and they had some really good bowling options as well. It was a tough one."
Nevertheless, the ongoing Australian tour of the UK has been arguably the most competitive white-ball effort put in by the national team outside of an Ashes or World Cup campaign since the shorter tours started to take place in 2010. Certainly, a pair of drubbings in 2012 and 2018 do not hold up well by comparison with this series, where the final match will be a series decider. Zampa reckoned that while the late season pitches had contributed to the difficulty of chasing on Sunday night, it had also made for an arm-wrestling style of cricket that kept the teams close together.
"I think last night we saw a bit of 1990s one-day cricket almost, just due to the fact we were playing at Old Trafford and the wickets are pretty tired at the moment. They've had a long summer here, and I think one-day cricket's still going to evolve even further from what you saw during the last World Cup," Zampa said. "I think it's definitely still a batsmen's game, but you're seeing a different type of one-day cricket at the moment due to some tired wickets, some tired players and lots of cricketers who haven't played a lot recently too. It's been a really good battle.
"We went about the chase really well, Marnus and Finchy played it beautifully. I just think once you lose a wicket after a big partnership like that, it's really hard to start. Balls were hitting the toe of the bat and some were hitting the handle of the bat too. It was a difficult chase to try and manipulate, but I think we went about it the right way. Once you lose wickets in clumps it makes it pretty hard.
"Particularly yesterday's game definitely played a role in that, a used wicket and things like that. I think the first game was still a pretty good wicket, but we don't really get wickets like that at home, playing one day cricket at places like the Gabba, MCG and SCG. Generally they're pretty good wickets, and I like one-day cricket that way as well. It is nice to play on those wickets, but I don't think playing on wickets like that is good all the time."
Zampa has taken the chance on this tour to put himself in some pivotal situations, not least volunteering to bowl at the death during the T20I series, but he has also enjoyed plenty of success with his variations and accuracy challenging the stumps. He has also taken plenty from watching Rashid go about his own brand of wristspin, closing out the game on Sunday even though he had been taken for plenty of runs earlier on.
"I really enjoy bowling the death overs, I love those pressure overs especially when the game's on the line," Zampa said. "Finchy, I think they needed 17 to win off the last two overs and I told Finchy that I should bowl it and it obviously didn't go to plan, but I'm not going to change my attitude after one game. I really enjoy bowling those overs and I've got a really good opportunity coming up at the IPL where I can bowl with [Yuzvendra] Chahal at RCB [Royal Challengers Bangalore] and I might get the opportunity to bowl those later overs because of the way the team is structured.
"I'm 100% about enjoying another person's craft. We've spoken about Rashid quite a bit because he's really dangerous for England and I love watching him bowl. I think his control, his flight, he's a really gutsy bowler, he's really attacking, always trying to get wickets. It's exciting to watch. It didn't go quite his way last night, but that happens with legspin and I think when you have an attacking mindset like Rash does, it's really exciting to watch."
Ahead of the final game of the tour, Zampa said the visitors were hopeful of being bolstered by Steven Smith, who has now missed two games following a head knock in training. "It's been disappointing to have him miss the last couple of games," Zampa said. "He's a world class player and his experience as well, so I'm not sure where it's at at the moment; we didn't really get to see him yesterday around game time. I think it's pretty obvious he's picked in most cricket teams, so hopefully we can have him back for that third game."