What is Chinaman Bowling? History and Top 10 Chinaman bowlers

Chinaman bowling

Chinaman Bowling is a type of spin bowling in cricket. Also known as left-arm unorthodox spin or left-arm wrist spin, chinaman bowlers use wrist spin to spin the ball and make it deviate from left to right after pitching. Only a handful of spinners have mastered the art of chinaman bowling. This article talks about what is Chinaman bowling, its origin, and the top 10 chinaman bowlers in 2022.

Chinaman Bowling Style

Every player has a unique style of bowling mode, which is of 2 primary types: Fast/Pace and Spin bowling. Under spin, there are different variants like left arm, right arm, off-spin, wrist spin, leg spin, left-arm orthodox, and more.

The way of left-arm orthodox is often referred to as Chinaman bowling style. Let us delve deep into that bowling area and understand what chinaman bowling is all about!

left-arm unorthodox bowling

What is Left-arm orthodox Spin? Finger Spin

When a bowler attempts to drift the ball in the air into a right-handed batsman and then turn it away from the batsman (towards off-stump) upon landing on the pitch, it is called left-arm orthodox spin. This left-arm finger spin bowling style is bowled by a left-arm bowler using the fingers to spin the ball from right to left of the cricket pitch.

What is Chinaman bowling style? Wrist Spin

In layman’s terms, a bowler who bowls left-arm leg spin or left-arm unorthodox spin is described as a Chinaman and is labeled as such. Left-handed bowlers spin the ball from their wrists in a motion that is the exact opposite of the leg break of right-handed bowlers.

A Chinaman bowler who deceives the delivery back into the batter can make it quite challenging to manage, unlike a left-arm orthodox spinner renowned for turning the ball away from the right-hander.

When facing an orthodox left-arm spin bowler, a right-natural hander’s reaction is to anticipate that the ball will turn away from the batsman and land in the off-stump. He is therefore taken aback by a Chinaman delivery due to the steep spin it creates as it drifts in.

Left-arm wrist spin is historically used in the art of Chinaman bowling, and left-arm wrist spinners frequently succeed in swiftly mastering the delivery.

But why “Chinaman” Bowling? Let’s get into that.

History of Chinaman bowling

Now, where did Chinaman bowling emerge from? One of the early practitioners of Chinaman bowling is regarded as former South African all-rounder Charlie Llewellyn, who played at the tail end of the 19th century. He was long considered the first South African born to black and white parents who participated in international cricket.

However, Ellis “Puss” Achong is regarded as the originator of Chinaman bowling in cricket history. Tradition has it that Ellis Achong, a former West Indian spinner, is where the catchphrase first appeared.

At Old Trafford in 1933, England played host to West Indies in a test match. Achong, who is supposedly a slow left-arm orthodox spinner, delivered a surprising delivery from his wrist that turned sharply after pitching outside off and stumped English batter – Walter Robins.

Achong was the first Test cricketer of Chinese descent, and it is said that a bewildered and furious Robins remarked, “Fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman,” as he walked towards the pavilion.

Since then, the phrase “chinaman bowler” has been used to describe left-arm wrist spinners.

Top 10 Chinaman bowlers

Few left-arm leg-spinners have entered the cricketing game since the origin of the catchphrase. Here are the top 10 Chinaman bowlers:

  1. Brad Hogg
  2. Sir Garfield Sobers
  3. Johnny Wardle
  4. Lakshan Sandakan
  5. Paul Adams
  6. Kuldeep Yadav
  7. Chuck Fleetwood Smith
  8. Tabraiz Shamsi
  9. Dave Mohammed
  10. Michael Bevan
Chinaman bowlers

Brad Hogg | Team – Australia

Since “Chuck” Fleetwood-Smith in the 1930s, Brad Hogg has been Australia’s most enigmatic chinaman bowler. Brad Hogg, born on February 6, 1971, belongs to a rare species of spinner. He was a slow left-arm chinaman bowler with a broad smile, a flipper that was challenging to read, and the occasional wrong’un had confused even the best batters.

Hogg stunned skilled players like Andy Flower with his fizzing balls, taking the world by storm. He was also the expert on Australian spin bowling in the World Cups of 2003 and 2007.

After taking three wickets against Pakistan in his maiden World Cup game, Hogg captured 13 wickets overall. His ODI career was very different. He played 123 times for his nation and finished with 156 wickets. Here are Brad Hogg’s bowling career stats:

Brad Hogg Chinaman bowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test17137
ODI157114124
T20I71515
IPL232121

Hogg could not fully enjoy the spotlight in the Australian team, but he nevertheless dazzled the world with his deliveries and played franchise cricket for T20 leagues worldwide until he was in his late 40s.

Sir Garfield Sobers | Team – West Indies

There is little need to introduce the legendary Garfield Sobers of the West Indies. Sir Garfield Sobers, regarded as the “Greatest All-Rounder of All Time,” was a cricketer who bowled the “Chinaman” bowling style. Garfield Sobers was a great cricketer who amassed 235 wickets at an average of 34.

Sobers was a wily bowler, a cricket genius who could bowl left-arm swing, left-arm orthodox spin, and chinaman bowling. He was also a batsman of uncommon brilliance. His best bowling performance (6-73) came in a 1968–1969 match against Australia in Brisbane. His statistics and skills made him the 1964 Wisden Cricketer of the Year, and he succeeded Worrell as the West Indies international team captain. Here are Garfield Sober’s bowling career stats:

Sir Garfield Sobers Chinaman bowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test23515993
ODI111

Johnny Wardle | Team – England

Englishman Johnny Wardle is one of the greatest left-arm spinners in history. He was unfortunate not to have a long career at the elite rate, partly because of Tony Lock’s left-arm orthodox spin bowling.

When Wardle bowled in the same traditional left-arm orthodox style as Lock, he also had the Chinaman delivery in his toolbox, which he frequently employed while representing England.

That delivery proved essential for him during England’s 1956–1957 tour of South Africa, where he took 26 wickets in four Test matches at an average of 13.81 and a total of 90 wickets on the trip.

Wardle concluded his career with 1846 first-class wickets and 102 test wickets. He is the only Chinaman bowler to have played in Test matches for England. Here are Johnny Wardle’s bowling career stats:

Johnny Wardle –Chinaman bowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test1025228
FC1846 412
List A5 4

Lakshan Sandakan | Team – Sri Lanka

Lakshan Sandakan is one of Sri Lanka’s top young chinaman bowlers. He makes it very challenging for the batters to choose his uncomfortable action because of his remarkable control over his talents and ability to flip the ball either way.

The decision to play for Colombo Cricket Club during the 2013–14 First Class season was the turning point in his career and set it on the proper growth trajectory. He topped the wickets list with 54 kills at a pitiful 19.14, finishing first. The next year, he had another outstanding season with 45 wickets. Here are Lakshan Sandakan’s bowling career stats:

Lakshan Sandakan – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test372011
ODI273031
T20I232020

Paul Adams | Team – South Africa

A chinaman with an unusual bowling stroke, South African Paul Adams made his debut in the 1996 World Cup and shocked everyone with his “Frog in the blender” move.

At the early age of 18, Adams made his international debut and instantly plagued England with various googlies. The Indian batters became his next victims as Adams secured his first-ever 5-wicket haul at Kanpur.

Adams earned 100 Test wickets in 2002, making him the seventh South African to do so. He has the world record for the highest number of Test wickets in the nation, with 134. Here are Paul Adams’s bowling career stats:

Paul Adams – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test1347645
ODI292324

Kuldeep Yadav | Team – India

Yadav, a fast bowler who is the son of a brick kiln owner, was encouraged to switch to left-arm wrist spin by his coach after debuting as a fast bowler.

Along with a small group of other young chinamen, Kuldeep, a rare breed of chinaman bowlers in the modern era, has brought the craft back from the dead. He made history at the 2014 Under-19 World Cup by taking the most wickets for India during the competition and being the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick. Kuldeep’s promise was more fully realized in the 2016 Duleep Trophy, as he finished with 17 wickets in three games.

Here are Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling career stats:

Kuldeep Yadav  – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test26127
ODI1126769
T20I442525
IPL615959

Chuck Fleetwood Smith | Team – Australia

Leslie O’Brien Fleetwood-Smith had a reputation for tormenting the batsmen with the “chinaman” and googly. As a young student, he was a left-arm spin bowler who altered his delivery after injuring his right arm.

In 10 Test games for Australia between 1935 and 1938, Chuck Fleetwood Smith, a brilliant cricket ball turner, collected 42 wickets.

His total first-class wicket total was 597, with a 22.00 average. As “Chuck,” he made his first trip to England in 1934, taking 119 wickets for 18.06 runs each, including three in four deliveries against Oxford University. Here are Smith’s bowling career stats:

Chuck Fleetwood Smith  – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test421810

Tabraiz Shamsi | Team – South Africa

A left-arm chinaman bowler from Johannesburg, Tabraiz Shamsi is an intelligent spinner with a lethal googly and 334 first-class wickets to his credit.

Shamsi began competing in the domestic league for Gauteng in 2009, moved to Kwa-Zulu Natal, where he struggled to succeed, and then changed bases once again to join the Titans.

In Adelaide, Australia, in November 2016, Shamsi played in his first Test match. In his debut, he struggled, going 2/150 over both innings.

Shamsi began his career as a fast bowler but eventually switched to bowling spin due to his slow speeds. He played in the IPL as well. Shamsi has taken 69 wickets in his T20I career to this point. Here are Tabraiz Shamsi’s bowling career stats:

Tabraiz Shamsi – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test642
ODI493538
T20I695656
IPL355

Dave Mohammed | Team – West Indies

Dave Mohammed, a left-handed chinaman bowler, received his first call-up to the West Indies national squad after just three first-class games. He has taken several wickets for local and international cricket teams.

His first Test performance was uneven, as he took three wickets while costing 112 runs. When Dave Mohammed played for the Stanford Superstars team that defeated England in the T20 match, he hit the jackpot. He performed admirably for T&T in the 2009 World T20 League as well.

Here are Dave Mohammed’s bowling career stats:

Dave Mohammed – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test1395
ODI1067

Michael Bevan | Team- Australia

Former left-handed batsman Michael Bevan was a one-day wizard with the bat because he could time even the most difficult run chase to perfection. However, when the captain instructed him to bowl, he occasionally also used his left arm to bowl the left-arm leg spin.

The chinaman bowler, who played in 232 one-day internationals and 18 tests overall, claimed 36 wickets in the 50-over format and was a key player in Australia’s World Cup victories in 1999 and 2003. Here are Michael Bevan’s bowling career stats:

Michael Bevan – Chinaman BowlerWicketsInningsMatches
Test292118
ODI3667232

So there you have it! The top 10 legendary players who excelled in the art of spin. Comment your views in the comment section and let us know who according to you is the best chinaman bowler and why!

Chinaman Bowling –  FAQs

Is there a chinaman bowler from India?

Yes. Kuldeep Yadav is Team India’s only Chinaman bowler.

Does a team get extra runs for illegal deliveries?

Yes. For a no-ball or wide ball, the batting team gets an extra run. Take a look at this article to know what are extras in cricket.

How many players are there in cricket?

There are 11 players on each team. The team also includes 4 substitute players. Take a look at this article to know the role and responsibility of each player in the cricket team.

How many players can bowl cricket?

Each bowler can bowl only 1 over at a time and not more than 10 overs
in the whole game. So, in a typical game 5-7 players bowl.

Who are left-arm unorthodox spinners?

Left-arm unorthodox bowlers, also referred to as left-arm wrist spinners, use their wrists to spin the ball from left to right after pitching.

What variations does a chinaman bowler have?

A legspinner-like googly. In this instance, the googly enters a left-hander after leaving a right-hander.

Why are Chinaman bowlers so rare?

Mastering left-arm wrist spin is challenging (as also traditional leg spin). The ball entering a right-hander is less threatening than the ball leaving him.