Anyone doubting that Twenty20 has changed the game substantially needs to take a closer look at the Champions League. Actually it's not the game that has changed so much as the education of the young cricketer.

Take the new breed of Australian pace bowlers. In so many people's opinions the Aussies have unearthed the most promising group to emerge in 30 years. Whether one of them can become a champion is another matter. It's a harsh reality that one great bowler is worth 10 good ones. Time alone will determine their capacity.

It's not so long ago that India, too, seemed to be bursting with speedsters. What happened to them? That is another tale to be told. Or maybe it is the same story with a little local colour.

Anyhow to observe New South Wales' second contest was to notice two of the most gifted of the new bunch trying to subdue Trinidad and Tobago. However, they were not charging in and hurling the ball down with the fury that accompanies typhoons and raw fast bowlers. Instead Mitchell Starc was operating from around the wicket whilst Patrick Cummins seemed to be concentrating on slower balls.

Some will argue that they were learning skills previously ignored by novices. How many slower deliveries did Fred Trueman bowl, or Malcolm Marshall? In theory the newcomers have a wider range of deliveries at their disposal.

Master the basics

But it's not as simple as that. Bowlers need to master the basics before taking the next step. It's no small thing to run 20 years, gather arms and legs and body in one mighty effort, project the ball with a straight arm and land it on the proverbial sixpence and then to repeat the feat 120 times in the day.

Without rhythm and regularity it cannot be done. And they come from repetition.

Rather than focusing on speed, these new pacemen are directed to incorporate other skills. It's like asking Usain Bolt to try the hop, skip and jump. Cummins, Starc and company ought to be concentrating on shaking batsmen not surprising them, ought to be trying to swing the ball one way or the other, and ought to be improving their control.

It cannot be done in five minutes. Some of them are still growing.

A dollar to a rupee says the same applies elsewhere.

To a lesser extent batsmen and spinners will be in the same position, learning the tricks before they have mastered the trade.

In that regard it will be fascinating to follow the fortunes of the next generation as they attempt to absorb so many skills in such a short period.

Elusive excellence

The other problem with T20 is that it does not promote excellence, may even stymie it. To watch Owais Shah and J.P. Duminy batting together was to worry about the signals given by their collaboration. Shah is an underachiever whose ability to belt the ball attracted the attention of the IPL scouts.

Doubtless he is earning a mint and good luck to him, but his value distorts the picture by informing youth that reward can come from immature excess and not just elusive excellence. It's hard to think of any other serious game that embraces such a notion.

Duminy is supposed to be one of the game's new champions. Many good judges have sung his praises. It's hard to avoid thinking, though, that at present his talent is going to waste. And it's hard to avoid thinking that the riches bestowed by fat IPL contracts have disturbed his technical and mental development. And Duminy is not alone. The cart is pulling the horse.

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