Yadav was impressive during the CLT20 for Kolkata Knight Riders © Getty Images
Yadav was impressive during the CLT20 for Kolkata Knight Riders © Getty Images

Subsequent to Kuldeep Yadav’s inclusion in India’s 2014-15 home series against West Indies, Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the various Chinaman bowlers to have played international cricket.

If Kuldeep Yadav eventually gets to play for India in the upcoming series against West Indies, he would become the first Chinaman bowler to represent them in international cricket. For that matter, he would also become the first Asian to have done so. One may make a case for Gulam Bodi, who was born in Hathuran, India, but did not play competitive cricket in India.

Of course, one must not forget Preeti “Dolly” Dimri, who had played two Women’s Tests (five wickets at 36.40), 23 Women’s ODIs (28 wickets at 23.21), and a Women’s T20I (a single wicket at 19.00) in the past decades, but as for now let us focus on men’s cricket.

Finding accuracy with wrist-spin is obviously more difficult than doing the same with finger-spin. One can get away with lack of accuracy against right-hand batsmen (who are more in number) if the ball turns from leg to off, but it becomes nigh-impossible if the ball turns the other way. This makes Chinaman bowlers a rare breed — to the extent that there have been only 28 of them in international cricket.

Of these 28, only 15 (Ellis Achong, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, George Tribe, Johnny Wardle, Garry Sobers, Lindsay Kline, Johnny Martin, David Sincock, Inshan Ali, Bernard Julien, Paul Adams, Brad Hogg, Beau Casson, Dave Mohammed, and Michael Rippon) would probably have made it to the side on the basis of bowling alone. Of them, Achong, Tribe, Wardle, Martin tried their hands at finger-spin as well, while both Sobers and Julien bowled both seam and finger-spin as well.

That leaves us with only nine specialist Chinaman bowlers, which is approximately one per 15 years of international cricket. Even if we include all 28, we will be left with one every five years. Yadav will indeed belong to a rare, elite list. Let us have a look at the complete list:

 

Chinaman bowler Other styles Team

Tests

ODIs

T20Is

M W Ave M W Ave M W Ave
Ellis Achong SLA West Indies

6

8

47.25

Maurice Leyland SLA England

41

6

97.50

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith Australia

10

42

37.38

Denis Compton England

78

25

56.40

Arthur Morris Australia

46

2

25.00

George Tribe SLA Australia

3

2

165.00

Johnny Wardle SLA England

28

102

20.39

Garry Sobers SLA, LFM West Indies

93

235

34.03

Lindsay Kline Australia

13

34

22.82

Johnny Martin SLA Australia

8

17

48.94

David Sincock Australia

3

8

51.25

Roy Fredericks West Indies

59

7

78.28

12

2

5.00

Ken Eastwood Australia

1

1

21.00

Inshan Ali West Indies

12

34

47.67

Bernard Julien SLA, LFM West Indies

24

50

37.36

12

18

25.72

Michael Bevan Australia

18

29

24.24

232

36

45.97

Paul Adams South Africa

45

134

32.87

24

29

28.10

Brad Hogg Australia

7

17

54.88

123

156

26.84

15

7

53.28

Simon Katich Australia

56

21

30.23

45

3

Gulam Bodi South Africa

2

1

Phil Jaques LM Australia

11

6

Adam Voges SLA Australia

31

6

46.00

7

2

2.50

Beau Casson Australia

1

3

43.00

Dave Mohammed West Indies

5

13

51.38

7

10

23.50

Sami Faridi Canada

3

Daniel Flynn SLA New Zealand

24

20

5

Michael Rippon Netherlands

4

5

19.60

6

1

127.00

* SLA = slow-left arm (finger-spin); LFM = left-arm medium-fast; LM = left-arm medium

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)