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First ladies of Cricket:
Harriet Palmer

The cultured, statuesque partner of Adam Zampa recalls it wasn’t exactly love at first sight when she met the South Australian leg-spinner. While the two couldn’t be much more different in personality, the opposites attract theory rings true in this case with a foundation of shared values.

Harriet, better known as Hattie, with partner Adam Zampa at the 2016/17 Neil Dansie Medal Night.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in the Northern Territory in quite a rural area. Mum had a horse stud near Darwin on 100 acres. After that we lived on the border of Queensland and NT on a couple of hundred thousand acres for a bit. We mustered on horseback and got around on horse or by motorbike. It was a country upbringing if ever there was one.

What brought you to Adelaide?
Love.

When and how did you meet Adam? How long have you been together?
Adam and I met just after my 18th birthday in Brisbane at the uni pub. He was living and playing cricket in NSW and had come to Brisbane for a mid-year training program. I was living in Brisbane doing uni at the time. It was a casual encounter at first – we had a conversation and he asked me out to dinner. I said no – I just wasn’t interested at the time. I was young, didn’t know him and was out with girlfriends. He did the old “Facebook add” regardless and two years later asked if I still wasn’t interested in dinner. I couldn’t remember for the life of me who he was. It took a while but I finally went to dinner and we’ve pretty much been inseparable since then. It’s nice how things work out.

At the beginning I knew he played cricket but I didn’t think it was a real job. Coming from Darwin I thought it was just something you did on Saturdays. I even prompted him a few times asking, “what do you really do?” It’s been a whole new world. We’ve been together nearly five years now but it seems like a lifetime – although he’s not around much!

Hattie in the SACA Members Enclosure before watching Zampa bowl during the Australia Day ODI. 

How do you find dating a cricket player?
It’s hard for anyone to have to spend time away from someone they love. Cricket is another world with its own schedule, its own rules, its own admin, so it’s difficult sometimes for someone on the outside trying to mesh in with that. Their schedule is not flexible. When you’ve got your own schedule – whether that’s uni or work or Christmas plans – it can be hard to fit in with that. For example, if you want to get married, you have to schedule it in April. There have been plenty of important family things Adam has had to miss out on.

What keeps you busy?
A year ago I graduated with a double degree in journalism and law. I’m currently doing a clerkship in the city, which is rewarding. Legal research is taking up quite a bit of time at the moment. It’s nice to put five-and-a-half years into practice. I have my art as well, which I love, but I want to work out the kinks of law and see if it’s for me.

We hear you are quite the talented artist and some of your pieces grace the walls of other cricket players’ houses …

Yes – I did a sketch of Phillip Hughes which some of the boys have. Travis Head has one, as does Richo (SA and Australian pace bowler Kane Richardson) and some other non-Redbacks who knew and loved him.

Art wasn’t a part of my life until I started uni. I didn’t pick up my first pencil until I was about 18 and then it became a hobby. It’s kind of a creative outlet from studying and having my head in the books. My parents are incredibly artistic – dad studies art and is an artefacts appraiser. Mum is self-employed as well as a saddle-maker. Artistic ability is not something I thought I had until I was older. I went through a period at uni when life was super hectic so art was my income. I do mostly resin abstract pieces and colourful ocean-inspired pieces. Now I don’t really have the time so it’s on the backburner unfortunately, but I do have an insta page – @hattieleighart.

 

What makes you a suited couple?
We share a lot of values, including veganism. But most importantly we’re opposite – we balance each other out. There are many traits in me some people might not be able to handle but Adam seems to do that and vice versa. For example, I’m a stress-head so I could send myself insane stressing about things whereas Adam’s a lot calmer – he’s able to approach things in more of a relaxed manner. I think when you put those things together we get things done. I’m more proactive and Adam comes in with this calm attitude. Adam would never get anything done if I wasn’t around and I’d have grey hair if he wasn’t!

What inspired the choice to become vegan?
There are so many things about being vegan I think are inspirational. It began with a health scare at around 18 and apparently red meat aggravates my condition. It came as a shock, because growing up on a farm we’d eat red meat three times a day. I couldn’t imagine a meal without it but I had to take a step and remove it from my life. I did that cold turkey (pun intended!) so I had no meat at all but fortunately I’ve always loved vegetables. We had a large garden as kids and lettuce was one of my favourite things to eat. We used to grow it in the garden – pick an iceberg lettuce, make some homemade salad dressing and dip it in and eat it. Luckily I never had a sweet tooth so it wasn’t like I was forcing myself to eat vegetables.

Veganism came along not long after that. Adam and I joined the dots really. We thought if we could live a life that wasn’t imposing on someone else’s, then why wouldn’t we? It’s not just animals we feel we’re making a difference to, we feel we’re making a difference to the planet, too. We have this idea we want to leave the world a little bit better than it was when we came in. We’re conscious with our recycling and buying sustainable things. Adam’s a bit of a fashionista, so he’s particularly conscious of clothing choices – no leather and such. It’s been difficult with mum being a leather-smith! Our families have been incredibly supportive. I guess you could say we went vegetarian for health and went vegan for the animals.

What’s your favourite thing about Adam?
I have lots of favourite things about Adam! He balances me out and is very supportive. For someone who has so much on his plate and so much pressure himself he just seems to have endless time to support me and check up on me, checking to see what my goals are like and how I’m going at uni or how I’m going at work. He’s constantly doing everything he can despite how inflexible cricket can be, for example he’ll try to make sure he’s there for my first day of work or arrange a nice dinner to celebrate things. He’s very good like that.

What’s his favourite thing about you?
Probably his favourite thing would be that I’m an exceptional dog/goat mum! He has real love for animals as we both do. We have five “rescues” at home – two dogs and three goats. He has the luxury of knowing they’re safe whenever he leaves. We have a greyhound – Abe, who came from a greyhound rescue group in North Queensland. Zaidee is our bulldog, who came from a couple in Adelaide who couldn’t keep her. The goat is a longer story. I asked mum for a vegan gift for Christmas that year – nothing big – even if it was just a vegan salad for the Christmas table and her vegan gift to Adam and me was a rescue goat. She built a trailer and drove Molly down from the NT to Adelaide for us. A few months after we got her, we noticed she was getting quite fat. In January last year she started acting very weirdly so I took my chair out and sat with her in her pen and at 8pm that evening she gave birth to twins, so now we have three goats! I think it’s very funny they were going to end her life because she wasn’t breeding but she was pregnant the whole time. She’s a very needy goat. And her babies are very needy as well.

Hattie with Adam Zampa at the 2018 Allan Border Medal.

What’s the best part of a day at the cricket for you?
I enjoy watching Adam play – it’s a huge love of mine. It’s brought a lot of amazing people into my life. Great friends have come about from cricket and Adam’s relationship with cricket. The wives and girlfriends sort of bundle together as we have lots in common. We live in an in-between world where we have to deal with the life of cricket and balance our lives around that. Often those not involved don’t really understand that things change, things come up. It’s good to have people in your circle who understand if you can’t go somewhere or do something because of sport.

Some of the players fondly describe Zampa as a “strange cat”. What’s your take on this?
Adam from the get-go is a person who will go left if you say go right. He loves to be different – this is nothing new. He has always worn out-there clothing, done out-there hairstyles and listened to out-there music. He’s just that kind of person. It’s a reflection of his personality, I think. He just loves the strange things and is always looking for something new, something weird, something fantastic.

What are your thoughts on his evolving hairstyles?
The thing about Adam is that he enjoys making people laugh – he likes to put his hair on the line for a good giggle. I remember when he went for the perm he was literally just bored. He has this great ability to laugh at himself no matter what. It’s an important thing in our relationship to have that quality. That trait runs deep in him.