I recall many years ago listening to the late Tony Cozier recount how Trinidadian Ellis “Puss” Achong influenced the naming of the cricket delivery known as the “chinaman.”
Ellis was the first cricketer of Chinese descent to play for the West Indies. His slow left-arm orthodox delivery in the 1933 Test match got Walter Robins out stumped. It reportedly elicited the retort from the Englishman Robins, “fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman.”
Many years later the great Garfield Sobers became a master at bowling anything…including the famed “chinaman”. It was never clear whether Robins was referring to the bowler or the delivery.
However, today, 87 years later, T&T is once again perplexed by a “chinaman.” Captain Rowley’s “Gary Sobers,” Minister Stuart Young’s brave effort to extract propitious spin on a fast bowler’s track is nothing short of ridiculous.
It even beats the attempts last year of a Guyanese side to claim victory with 32 runs when their opponents scored 33!
The bouncer delivered by a clearly riley up US Ambassador would have made Malcolm Marshall or Andy Roberts nod in approval. Yet, although Minister Young’s lame come back “chinaman” has been deposited way over the fence and into the balisier garden in St Ann’s, some like the PNM Women’s League are screaming for another spell.
Captain Rowley must be contemplating walking off the field in frustration and forfeiting the match. However, he has opted to hide in his garden beyond the boundary, from an irate crowd.
Almost on a daily basis, seasoned commentators from the media are wondering out loud why he is refusing to pull the young and inexperienced spinner from the attack. It is clear that his main strike bowler is tired and unable to even grip the ball. It’s a gross insult to the skill of the real Gary Sobers, the Barbadian cricketing legend.
With only a couple overs left to bowl and his champion spinner leaking runs, skipper Rowley must pry the ball from his hands and unceremoniously send him off. Things are looking grim for the PNM team.
One player who was in the hunt has already retired hurt with water in his eyes. Nobody knows what ails him.
Sadly, he has only just realised that there were players on the field who the umpire has sanctioned. Although the game appears already lost, the captain must do the right thing and save the crowd from further embarrassment. It amounts to a matter of national security.
Failing this, an entire country would be “done by a bloody Chinaman.”