Home > Features >

Is the Chinaman bowler on the rise?

Kuldeep Yadav's Chinaman bamboozled many a batsman during the ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images
Kuldeep Yadav’s Chinaman bamboozled many a batsman during the ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images (File Photo)

After India Under-19′s Kuldeep Yadav put up an impressive showing in the just conluded ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014, the Chinaman bowler in cricket may not be an extinct species and there is still hope for the unique brand of bowling in the international arena. From Ellis Achong to Yadav himself, international cricket has seen many such a bowler over the years and the recent success of Yadav will only contribute to the rise of the dying art of Chinaman bowling. Vineet Varma takes a look at some of the best Chinaman bowlers who have played in international cricket and have befuddled the batsmen with their guile and trickery.

When Kuldeep Yadav created history by becoming the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 game against Scotland, the feat has reminded this writer of the many Chinaman bowlers who have graced the game, the most famous in recent times being Brad Hogg of Australia and Paul Adams of South Africa. Technically a Chinaman bowler is a left-arm wrist spinner who can turn the ball from off to leg (from a right-handed batsman’s perspective) and has an unorthodox bowling action.

The term was coined in the year 1933 when the West Indies were playing England in a Test match at Old Trafford and the visitors had a player of Chinese origin playing in their ranks. When Ellis “Puss” Achong dismissed England’s Walter Robins with a delivery that spun from the off-side to dislodge his stumps, the exasperated Robins had famously yelled out “fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman!” to the umpire while walking back to the pavilion and thus the term stood.

If you look at the number of Chinaman bowlers who have played cricket in the modern era then the numbers are by far and few very minute. Take for the case of Adams. The man whose action was once described by Mike Gatting as a “frog in a blender”, the South African could have confused opposition batsmen with his weird action itself and though he never achieved phenomenal success during his playing days still his crab-like action was what really stood him apart from his contemporaries. Adams had an equally unusual grip, as he gripped the ball with his thumb and index finger while bowling and released the ball in his unique action thus bringing a comic sight for watching cricket enthusiasts.

The other Chinaman bowler whom this writer feels had a slightly better record than Adams was Australian Hogg who could beat the best of batsmen with his fast deliveries. Hogg can be considered as a Chinaman bowler in the classic mould who also was the winner of two World Cups (2003 and 2007) and now at the grand old age of 43 has earned a recall to Australia’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 to be played in Bangladesh. Hogg was a completely different bowler when compared to Adams and had an action which saw him swiveling both his bowling and non-bowling arm in a swift motion before the launch of a delivery.

Though Hogg was never as successful as the legendary Shane Warne in terms of cricketing statistics still the sight of him cleaning up a batsman with a ‘flipper’ or a wrong one was definitely one to behold for fans of spin bowling.

In his days “Chuck” Fleetwood-Smith used to be a champion of the Chinaman. Even Michael Bevan, usually thought of as an occasional bowler, used this brand of bowling to great effect when he spun out West Indies single-handedly with figures of ten for 113 at Adelaide in 1996-97. Inshan Ali and Simon Katich have also bowled left-arm wrist-spin, but the most famous of them all has probably been Garry Sobers, who, as we know, had bowled seam-up and finger-spin as well. Johnny Wardle could spin the ball either way as well.

So as this writer concludes this piece he hopes that the recent success of Yadav may well inspire a new generation of Chinaman bowlers in the near future and may well revive an art which was till now considered to be a dying one thanks to the domination of batsmen in the modern era of the game.

(Vineet Varma is a writer at Cricket Country. He can be followed @Vinfire19

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

Afghanistan tour of UAE, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Dubai


Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 124 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 25 runs

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)


Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos


Phil Hughes passes away: Video tribute

Live Cricket Score, Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 4th ODI at Dhaka: Shakib picks up two quick wickets

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs New Zealand, 3rd Test at Sharjah, Day 2: Brendon McCullum records fastest Test century by NZ batsman; Visitors reach 164/1 at tea

Phillip Hughes 7th-youngest Test cricketer to die

Phillip Hughes: A brief look at the career of one of Australia’s most promising talents

Phillip Hughes: Rest in peace

Australia England India India tour of Australia 2014-15 New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 Phil Hughes Phil Hughes Death Phil Hughes head injury Phillip Hughes

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 3rd Test at Sharjah: Brendon McCullum ton guides NZ to 164/1 at tea

Phillip Hughes’ death: Andy Murray expresses sorrow

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 3rd Test at Sharjah: Brendon McCullum scores 2nd fastest fifty by NZ batsman

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 3rd Test at Sharjah: Tom Latham dismissed by Rahat Ali; New Zealand 57/1

Bangladesh end at 256/8 against Zimbabwe in 4th ODI at Dhaka

Sean Abbott will find the road ahead a living nightmare

Phillip Hughes’ death: What happens to India vs Australia Test series?

Phillip Hughes 63 not out, forever

Henry Blofeld: Nephew of an England captain?

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014: Pakistan top-order prevails once again

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Alia Bhatt or Shraddha Kapoor: Who can play Jennifer Lawrence’s role if Mockingjay is remade in Bollywood?

सुबह गुनगुना पानी पीने के छह फ़ायदे

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

सर्दी के दिनों में त्वचा को स्वस्थ रखने के कुछ सरल उपाय

Ungli movie review: Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda let down by predictable and contrived plot

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here