Melbourne, June 27: With every passing season, Australia's leaning towards Twenty20 only surges. This trend could well undermine the precedence of Test cricket in a nation already struggling to revive its credentials in the game's longer format, as it slips of No. 5 in the ICC rankings. So goes the opinion of captain Michael Clarke's mentor and coach Neil D'Costa
D'Costa's view would probably find much resonance from several quarters of the cricket fraternity as he proceeds to point out the reason for the malaise. "A lot of junior state cricket in Australia is now T20 cricket and that could kill Test cricket in this country," D'Costa told a leading local newspaper.
D'Costa has been Clarke's cricket guardian since the Aussie middle-order batsman was seven years old and has been training state-level juniors in India for a few years. He elucidates the fact that there is a striking paucity of T20 at the junior level in India's domestic scene as coaches are more keen that pubescent youngsters hone basic skills, suited for longer formats of the game. This set-up, which Australia is currently shunning, would bode well for all three forms of the game.
"In India, it's very different. There is no T20 in the junior state programs. We don't train for it, don't play it, don't promote it and the players have nothing to do with it. It's only at the higher levels, where there are players who have learnt their game and can make improvisations."
D'Costa proceeds to laud the Indian scene, especially given the meticulous manner in which up-and-coming cricketers are imparted their prowess.
"The energy that's being put in, the planning that's going into the development of Indian cricketers, is amazing. At the same time, Australia's spending time and money just trying to work out our problems."
D'Costa said he was astounded when he interacted with several of his young Australian tutelage who just wanted to hammer the ball and blaze out towards big scores. "It's a real concern because everything in Australian cricket at the moment seems to be about T20. It's all about the Big Bash, how we can get more people to the games, how we can make money out of India. It's not really about how we can make better cricketers."
D'Costa added that such an obsession with T20 would spawn "cloned" players whose individual styles of batting and bowling would go untapped and unrealised.
"You don't coach a Premier League soccer player how to kick a ball. And you don't get a landscape artist to paint portraits. They are coaching our most talented players with the same principles as you should coach a junior. These guys are past all that. It's as though they're trying to create clones. They're not coaching players according to what they specifically need."