Why is a chinaman rare in cricket?

There is a plethora of techniques of spin bowling in cricket. Chinaman is one such technique. In the late 19th century, Reggie Schwarz gained popularity for bowling the googly. Schwarz was a right arm leg break bowler; meaning, he would turn the ball from left to right after it pitches. When he turned it from right to left, it would often confuse the batter and thus the googly was popularized.


Schwarz’s teammate, Charles Llewlynn was also a leg-spinner. He had a high arm action with a slow bowling pace. Schwarz advised Llewlynn to add a variation in his wrist bowling wherein the bowl would go towards the leg stump (right to left) after pitching. This took Llewlynn several years to master, but he was eventually successful and is thus credited as one of the first proponents of what is now called Chinaman.


In 1933, Ellis Achong, a West Indies wrist spinner with Chinese origin dismissed Waltern Robins with a sharp delivery that spun inwards towards the batter. “Fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman!,” said a frustrated Robins to the umpire. Learie Constantine, one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket was fielding during that match. After he heard Robins’ remark, he asked him, “Is that the man or the ball?”

The word Chinaman was then instilled and is now associated more with Achong than with Llewlynn. In modern cricket, Brad Hogg and Paul Adams popularized it in the first decade of the 21st century. In the second decade, India’s Kuldeep Yadav and South Africa’s Tabriz Samsi are said to popularize this variant of spin bowling.

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