Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Australia’s vegan, whisky-loving coffee connoisseur

Adam Zampa
Zampa has taken 34 wickets at an average of 21.08 and economy rate of 6.49 in 32 Twenty20 internationals

Two years ago, a young Australia side on their first tour after the bruising ball-tampering fiasco lost all six matches they played against England.

Adam Zampa was so far from the international picture that he was playing club cricket for Brentwood in preparation for a spell with Essex.

The leg-spinner knows the part the summer of 2018 played on his road back to the Australia team – a journey which had him as the highest ranked T20 bowlerexternal-link on either side at the beginning of the current series.

“I really can’t speak highly enough of what that year did for me,” he says.

Zampa, who has also spent time playing for Chichester Priory Park and East Molesey, left an impression on Brentwood, too. They even had a song dedicated to him.

Not only that, but Brentwood skipper Aaron West, whose home Zampa stayed in, recalls a love of whisky that often involved a night-time tipple.

Now, Zampa’s fondness for a wee dram is sustaining the Australians in the bio-secure bubble.

“I’ve always taken a couple of bottles of whisky on tour with me,” he says. “A few of the boys have started to do it too.

“We have a whisky club. At night people will bring different bottles. Some like Japanese. I like Scottish Highlands. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc have started to enjoy it and a few other guys are starting to dabble.”

Zampa, 28, has a tattoo of a whisky glass on his left wrist, the result of pace bowler Kane Richardson’s stag weekend, when the pair agreed to choose ink for each other.

There is even a story doing the rounds on the internet, perhaps originated by Zampa himself, of him enjoying an evening on the whisky in a Soho bar with actor Tom Hardy.external-link

On this occasion, Zampa will not confirm or deny its accuracy, although the laughter probably gives the game away.

This tour of England – if you can call spending all the time in hotels in Derby, Southampton and Manchester a tour – is not the first time that Zampa’s passions have turned into social gatherings.

As was revealed in The Test, the fly-on-the-wall documentary that followed the Australians during the ball-tampering fallout, Zampa’s specialty coffee-making led to his hotel room being dubbed ‘The Love Cafe’.

“Regular guests are Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, Alex Carey – all good friends of mine,” he explains. “Anyone is welcome.

“The Love Cafe part of the documentary was a good insight into who we are outside of cricket. When it first came out I was getting messages from people saying they loved that bit in The Test, wanting to know where I get coffee from and how I brew it.”

Such was the interest, Zampa even launched his own line of coffee-making equipment – The Love Bundle.

As more and more of his team-mates have developed the taste for rare coffees, trade in The Love Cafe has slowed.

“I hardly have anyone knocking on the door because they have their own set-up,” says Zampa. “I get to training and I have a lot of questions asked to me about coffee beans.”

At this point, with the idea of Australia players discussing coffee at training planted in the mind, it is worth recalling tales of tours past, specifically the legend of David Boon, whose consumption of 52 cans of beerexternal-link on the flight to the UK for the 1989 Ashes series was celebrated by an announcement from the pilot.

“I don’t know if Boony would be proud of us, but I think times have changed,” says Zampa. “Staying fit, healthy and mentally switched on is very important. The beer-drinking culture has dramatically changed.”

Not that Zampa would mind too much what the players of yesteryear make of his off-field activities.

What he calls “conscious consumerism” extends to a vegan diet. He has appeared in an advertising campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).

“I’m not vegan to help my performance,” he says. “I did it because I care about animals and the environment. It’s really easy for me because I’m passionate about it.”

Being a vegan on tour as an international cricketer brings its challenges. Zampa, though, comes prepared. He has even hauled his own microwave more than 10,000 miles across the globe.

“I’ve only brought about three T-shirts and two pairs of pants so I can fit in all my food and all my appliances,” he says.

“People come into my hotel room and say ‘you’re a great packer’. I’ve got everything here. A microwave, all my coffee, all my elixirs – apple cider vinegar and my nutritional yeast. Packet mac and vegan cheese, miso soups, tea, all my favourite mugs and peanut butter. All that comes with me.

“I’ve had to learn along the way. Here in the bubble I’ve ordered some frozen vegan meals that I can heat up in the microwave. You find different ways around it.”

In one sense, Zampa is not so different from the other players who have donned the green and gold, especially the team that toured India in 1998, who took a delivery of hundreds of tins of baked beans and spaghetti addressed to Shane Warne.

On the other hand, he’s a world away from Australian firebrands such as Boon, Allan Border and Merv Hughes, players who would snarl their way through encounters against England.

Zampa has a home in a team led by Justin Langer, the coach who famously encouraged his players to walk barefoot across the Edgbaston outfield before last year’s World Cup semi-finals.

“I don’t really see myself as a cricketer,” Zampa says. “I see myself as quite a cultured person.

“I have a lot of thoughts about life. I think about things a little bit differently to other people.”

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