Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Promising bowler Kuldeep Yadav is the first ‘chinaman’ bowler to play for Indian men’s cricket team. Having said this, Indian women’s team had a ‘chinaman’ bowler in Priti Dimri who played 26 matches from 2006-2010.

What is ‘chinaman’?

‘Chinaman’ is an art in which a left-arm bowler bowls wrist spin just like right-arm bowlers bowl leg spin. It is an unorthodox bowling style as the bowler uses his wrist to generate spin rather than his fingers. The direction of the turn after pitching the ball is the same as that of a traditional right-handed off spin bowler. But, why are these kind of bowlers called a ‘chinaman’ instead of slow left-arm wrist or unorthodox spin?

Its origin

The origin of the term ‘chinaman’ traces back to 1933 during the Test match between hosts England and West Indies at Old Trafford. After being dismissed for 375 in the first innings, West Indian pacer Manny Martindale ran through England’s top-order. However, captain Douglas Jardine and Walter Robins put on a 140-run partnership for the seventh wicket. When he was looked set for a century, West Indies’ left-arm orthodox spinner, Ellis Achong bowled an unorthodox delivery that turned from off to the leg and got Robins stumped.

Incidentally, Achong was the first Test cricketer of Chinese ancestry. It is believed that when Robins walked back to the pavilion, he said ‘fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman’. Hence, this unorthodox left-arm delivery since then was associated with the term ‘chinaman’.

Other ‘chinaman’ bowlers

Even though the Indian team got its first ‘chinaman’ bowler in 2017, the teams around the world have seen quite a few bowlers who are mastered this art. Australia’s Brad Hogg is one name that comes to our mind while talking about ‘chinaman’ bowling. Some of the other ‘chinaman’ bowlers are South Africa’s Paul Adams, West Indian legend Sir Gary Sobers, Aussie Michael Bevan, England’s Johnny Wardle and Denis Compton.

Batters across the globe find it difficult to read ‘chinaman’ bowlers as their variations are very difficult to pick.