Marsh declares Zampa Australia's 'most important player' ahead of the T20 World Cup

Skipper expects to move back to No.3 for New Zealand series after some experimentation against West Indies

Captain Mitchell Marsh has pinpointed Adam Zampa as arguably Australia's "most important player" ahead of the T20 World Cup after a "formidable" West Indies pummelled the star legspinner in their 37-run consolation victory in Perth.
An unusually sluggish Zampa had a rare off night in the third and final game of the series to finish with 1 for 65 in the worst bowling figures in Australia's T20I history.
In a tactical gamble from Marsh that backfired, Zampa was held back until the penultimate over of the innings and was thrashed for 28 runs punctuated by three consecutive sixes from Andre Russell as West Indies powered to a match-winning total of 220 for 6 after recovering from 17 for 3.
"He bowled some really tough overs tonight," Marsh said. "The 19th [over], it's probably the hardest over. We were banking on breaking that partnership at some stage and I held Zamps back there, but unfortunately we came off second best.
"Zamps is by far our most important bowler and probably our most important player in this team."
Despite ending the home international summer on a sour note, Marsh was encouraged by a new-look Australia's series victory as they trialled several players with a host of frontliners missing.
Quick Xavier Bartlett starred early with two wickets in his T20I debut to continue his stellar start to his international career following his consecutive four-wicket hauls in ODI cricket.
"He certainly earned his spot," Marsh said of Bartlett who finished with 2 for 37 from four overs. "I didn't know him that well, but he seems like a ripping kid and a real competitor."
But Australia resisted selecting emerging batter Jake Fraser-McGurk, who had made his international debut in the ODI series, as they reshuffled the top-order with Marsh moving up a spot to open alongside David Warner.
Marsh is expected to move back to No.3 with the return of Travis Head in the upcoming T20I series in New Zealand.
"Just giving guys opportunities, different places throughout our lineup," Marsh said about Australia's rejigged batting order which saw Aaron Hardie bat at No.3 and Josh Inglis shift down from opener to No.4.
"The team will change a little bit in New Zealand with a few experienced heads coming in, but I think on a whole the series was great to unearth a few young guys.
"[To] win a series against a really good team was really impressive. They're a formidable team with some amazing talent.
"They certainly bat deep and will be hard to beat on their home turf [at the T20 World Cup]."
West Indies' top order struggled to handle the extra bounce on the pace-friendly Optus Stadium surface. But allrounder Roston Chase ignited the fightback with 37 off 20 balls before Russell and Sherfane Rutherford combined for a T20I record sixth-wicket partnership of 139.
"That's the thing about our team...our batting goes right down to 11," Chase said. "We believe in every batter we have and we are not short on confidence.
"Everybody knows that West Indies is a boundary-hitting team, so we strive on that."
After failing to qualify for the last T20 World Cup, West Indies have been rejuvenated under the leadership of Rovman Powell with series victories over England, India and South Africa in the past 12 months.
"West Indies is a big cricketing nation with a lot of history, so to miss the last World Cup was heartbreaking for the team and also for the region," said Chase, who also took 2 for 19 with his offspin to halt Australia in the middle overs.
"But I think that this team really has the belief. It's been a different vibe. I think everyone enjoys each other's success and the guys really gel together well."

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth