One of the myths that surround talent is that of the "natural"; the player who is brilliant from the moment they pick up a bat or ball.
For example, Irfan Pathan. The Indian seamer made his International debut as a 19 year old as a natural batsman and bowler.
In fact - like every natural player - he spent an extraordinary amount of time learning his craft.
Things like technical skill, street smarts and robust confidence take time and experience for everyone to develop.
It's accepted by coaches, experts and players alike that the 10,000 hour rule is an accurate guide to true mastery of cricket skills. Pathan spent up to 6 hours a day as a young player honing his talent.
But how long does it take?
Fortunately, it can be a lot less that 10,000 hours, and I’ve seen it happen quickly.
If want to take this shorter path, there are things you need to so:
1. Dedication not time
The trouble with the 10,000 hour rule is that it assumes quantity trumps quality. This is not true.
Hours really only count when are are being mindful about your development. You must conciously have in your mind the desire to be the best. It is not a hobby. It is not the motions. It is everything.
Pathan showed this dedication perfectly. He was never extraordinary when he was younger, but when he applied himself properly he had it in his mind that he would become a master.
It’s an awesome example of someone choosing his path and sticking to it.
Lots of additional thinking and study outside of practice.
2. Pick your opponents
Many players who show some skill sit back and are happy to be a big fish in a small pond. Success against weaker players is easy and addictive.
It's also a route to getting stuck where you are.
Pathan did not do this. He played Under-16 cricket at age 13. He played for India A at 17. He was always looking for the next opponent to test him.
Both for skill and mental toughness you to test yourself against the best you can find to take you to the higher levels.
3. Understand your style
Bodies are different and there are many styles that are more or less suitable to your physical makeup.
So, when picking a style, make sure you know what you’re getting into. If you are a small player without a lot of natural power, copying Pathan may not work for you and you might want to take a more "classical" or touch approach to your game.
Experiment with things and find out exactly what works. Listen to your body and not what is nessecarily seen as technical perfection.
When everything aligns, from the right devotion to the right opposition to the right style, you will become proficient much faster.