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Marsh: Zampa is 'probably our most important player'

Despite the loss, Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus looked on the positive side, saying "these big games are always gold dust"

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
They overcame a small wobble to win convincingly, completely outplayed their higher-seeded group opponent and now dispatched a lower-ranked team with clinical ease. Australia can lay claim to having had the most serene path so far in T20 World Cup 2024, a marked contrast to living on the edge as they have done in recent global events.
Things could change, of course, come the Super Eight but Australia are a well-drilled side with, seemingly, all bases covered. Pat Cummins was able to have the first game off; there was no need to push a sore Mitchell Starc into this one. Others could now get a rest against Scotland ahead of the next stage, which sees three games in six days for all the teams who make it.
Namibia were not expected to be a roadblock, but this tournament has thrown up the unexpected quite frequently. This, however, was not going to be a night for anything to be added to that list. Australia's powerplay bowling was relentless; Adam Zampa helped himself to the middle and lower order; the fielding was outstanding and the chase brutal.
Zampa, becoming Australia's first male player to 100 T20I wickets, took the plaudits with the Player-of-the-Match award - his second in two games - and from his captain. Like in the ODI World Cup, he has so far operated as the lone frontline spinner, supported by Glenn Maxwell's offspin.
"If you look at his career, especially over the last five years, he's probably our most important player," Australian captain Mitchell Marsh said at the post-match presentation. "He loves the big moment, loves the pressure, and that comes with experience. He's bowling beautifully at the moment, so we're lucky to have him."
It took 24 minutes and less than six overs to knock off the target. Run rate was of no concern, or benefit, for Australia (whether they take note of England's in a few days' time is another thing entirely) but they were in no mood to hang around. Perhaps they can squeeze in another of Antigua's 365 beaches before hopping over to St Lucia.
"I think in the back of your head turning up today, that's how the day should go for us," Josh Hazlewood said. "And it's one thing thinking that, it's another thing actually going out and doing it. So, it was up to us to set the tone as the bowling group and to have them 3 for 16 [15], 5 for 20-odd really sort of set that tone. Then obviously we've got the freedom with the bat to chase a lowish score as quickly as possible… but yeah, it's good to get a win like that."
Gerhard Erasmus, the Namibia captain who was made to sweat 17 balls to get off the mark, did not shy away from the result and conceded his team had not played their best throughout the competition, which started with a Super Over win against Namibia and then a loss to Scotland. However, he hoped his players would still take gains from the experience.
"I think these big games are always gold dust in the sense that you get a physical run out with the best in the world," he said. "You tend to face different ball speeds, different skills at a very high quality, a very high consistency and whether that's a game that runs very close or one that you even lose quite far, it's still gold dust that you need to try your best to take in every moment of that and every sort of experience that you can because they don't come around often. So hopefully, some of the boys could do that tonight again, even though it was a bit of a runaway."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo