Feb 16, 1904: Birth of the ‘Chinaman’

Ellis "Puss" Achong was a West Indian cricketer Wikicommons

On February 16, 1904, a guy entered the world who made sure cricket would be seen in a new light. Trinidadian Ellis “Puss” Achong is said to be the inventor of one of the most famous styles of bowling in cricket.

He was a slow left-arm spinner of Chinese extraction, from whom the expression for the left-arm spinner’s wrong ‘un is believed to originate. He was also the first player of Chinese origin to play cricket.

He played six Test matches for the West Indies, all against England. It included the tour of England in 1933. Although Achong played all three matches, he had limited success.

Essentially an orthodox slow left-armer, at Manchester he had Robins stumped by a ball which, bowled with a wrist-spinner’s action, turned into the right-hander from the off and gave rise to the use in England of the word ‘chinaman’.

After he was given out, Robins left the crease cursing, “Fancy being out to a bloody Chinaman,” to which Learie Constantine, his teammate replied, “Do you mean the bowler or the ball?” This conversation is said to have led to the birth of this term.

Achong, however, found his calling in the domestic league, where he took more than 1000 wickets through the course of his career.

This type of delivery has been very prominent in the annals of international cricket.

Denis Compton, former Arsenal forward and famous English batsman specialised in this delivery while bowling.

Sir Garfield Sobers also used it to good effect. But, it was Brad Hogg, member of the 2003 and 2007 Australian World Cup teams, who popularised it around the world.

India’s Kuldeep Yadav is also a good exponent of this delivery.

Part of the squad for the Test matches against Australia, he will be the first chinaman bowler to play for India if he makes his debut.

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