The chinaman

Leggie in the mirror

ESPNcricinfo staff
Ellis Achong invented it; we've got the lowdown on it

That "bloody Chinaman": Ellis Achong © Empics

What is it?
A mirror image of a right-armer's legbreak, a chinaman is a ball from a left-armer that is bowled over the wrist and turns the opposite way to orthodox left-arm spin. In other words, it spins in to the right-hand batsman and away from the left-hander - from left to right on a TV screen.

What is the term's origin?
Charlie "Buck" Llewellyn, a South African allrounder who played circa the end of the 19th century, laid claim to inventing the delivery. But the term is more traditionally believed to have originated with the former West Indian spinner Ellis "Puss" Achong. In the 1933 Old Trafford Test, Achong, a left-arm orthodox spinner and the first Test cricketer of Chinese ancestry, bowled an unexpected wrist-spin delivery that turned from off to leg, and had the English batsman Walter Robins stumped. Legend has it that Robins, as he walked back to the pavilion, remarked, "Fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman."

Who are the famous practitioners of the art?
Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Garry Sobers, and more recently, Paul Adams, Michael Bevan, Brad Hogg, and Dave Mohammed are among the better known ones.

What variations does a chinaman bowler have?
A googly, just like a legspinner. Only in this case the googly leaves the right-hander and comes into a left-hander.

Why are Chinaman bowlers so rare?
It is difficult to control left-arm wrist spin (as also traditional legspin). And by and large the ball coming in to a right-hander is considered less dangerous than the one leaving him.