Adam Zampa. Photo: Getty Images
FORMER chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns has urged Australia to take a punt on unheralded leg-spinners Adam Zampa and Cameron Boyce for the Test tour of India with a view to developing them for the Ashes.
Hohns, one of the architects of Australia's last golden era, wants one of the inexperienced pair plucked from obscurity and taken to India next month as a third spinner to fast-track their development.
The left-field idea has been inspired by the country's dearth of proven slow-bowling options and a desire to see Australia prey on England's historical weakness against wrist spin.
Cameron Boyce. Photo: Getty Images
Like many teams around the world, the English were mesmerised by Shane Warne during his 15-year international career, and before that had trouble against less accomplished leggies such as Hohns and Peter Sleep.
Hohns claimed 11 wickets at an average of 27 in Australia's famous Ashes triumph in England in 1989, while Sleep claimed his only Test five-for to bowl his team to victory in Sydney during the 1986-87 series.
''We need to be mindful we need to encourage our spinners,'' Hohns said on Monday. ''In Boyce and Zampa, we have a couple of pretty good young leg-spinners. They're nowhere near their best, but they certainly need encouragement.
''It's been proven in the past England struggles against leg-spinners. There's been leg-spinners who have had some success against England in England. It has to be good leg-spin, it can't be mediocre.''
National coach and selector Mickey Arthur rates the duo as ''the two best leg-spinners in the country'' and said the idea of taking one of them to the subcontinent would be discussed.
''We need to think about that, I've thought about that option,'' he said.
Glenn Maxwell is the next spinner in line after being named in the squad for the third Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney, starting on Thursday, while Michael Beer, who played in the tour of the West Indies in 2012, remains an option.
Victorian left-armer Jon Holland had been earmarked as Nathan Lyon's understudy until he suffered a serious shoulder injury this season.
Boyce and Zampa, in particular, have little first-class experience, but neither did incumbent tweaker Lyon before he was blooded in 2011, towards the end of Andrew Hilditch's era as chairman of selectors.
Zampa, 20, played his first and only Sheffield Shield game for NSW against Queensland in late November after being called up at the last minute, but captured the attention of Hohns with match figures of 5-37.
''I was there and I was most impressed by the way he bowled,'' said Hohns, Queensland's chairman of selectors and state talent manager. ''He had pace, bounce, flight, spin and good variety.''
Zampa, who has captained Sutherland in Sydney grade cricket, has been one of the few shining lights in Sydney Thunder's dismal Big Bash League campaign.
The Wollongong product has been in NSW's squad since 2010 and though highly rated by state selectors, has struggled for opportunities behind Nathan Hauritz, Steve O'Keefe and Steve Smith.
The promising Boyce, 23, from Queensland, has made 22 first-class appearances for the unremarkable return of 39 wickets at 45, but is the youngest bowler to bag a five-for in a shield final.
National selectors indicated Boyce was on their radar last summer when they played him in two Chairman's XI matches against India in Canberra.
''It could well be [too early to select them], but if they're good enough, that's fine,'' Hohns said.
''I think we've still got to look at building our side rather than picking a team to win straight away. You have to build a team for the future and we're heading in the right direction - we're performing pretty well at the moment.''
Although Hohns is enthusiastic about Boyce and Zampa, he is also an admirer of Lyon, whose solid record of 59 wickets at 31 has not been enough to keep the critics at bay.
''Have a look at his Test record. He's getting criticised unfairly because he doesn't bowl guys on the last day,'' Hohns said.
''The expectations are so high … All the talk about pitches spinning on the last day and you put too much pressure on him and he puts that on himself.
''I think he's going OK, performing a role, and he'll get better. We expect too much from our young spinners.''
Hohns also wants to see Smith, whose batting has improved markedly this year though at the expense of his bowling, continue to work on his spin.
''He's batting well, [but] I'm not sure he's worked enough on his bowling. He's the ideal No. 6 [batsman] if he's bowling leg-spinners.''