Alter syntax MySQL conversion varchar to decimal

I have imported a large excel file into a MySQL table
I want to change a varchar field to a decimal field
I thought the syntax would be
ALTER TABLE tablename ALTER COLUMN columnname DECIMAL (10,2)

but I keep getting a syntax error in SQL
Is such a change permitted or do I have the syntax incorrect
Can someone help?
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Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]Billing EngineerCommented:
>Is such a change permitted
it is permitted, BUT it will fail if at least 1 row's date for the column cannot be converted appropriately.

please show the EXACT error you get.
jxllAuthor Commented:
I get a syntax error and no conversion occurs

[SQL] Alter table elaboratebirth2006v6 alter column Australia_M Decimal(10,2)

[Err] 1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 'Decimal(10,2)' at line 1

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Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]Billing EngineerCommented:
I found it.. it must be MODIFY and not ALTER:

Alter table elaboratebirth2006v6 modify column Australia_M decimal(10,2)

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