Sporting Vernacular: 3. Chinaman

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WHEN THE South African cricketer Brian McMillan was taken to task last week for asking his bowler to deliver a "coolie creeper" - one that stays low after it bounces - he wondered aloud if this meant he could no longer use the word "chinaman", the left-handed wrist spinner's delivery which turns into the right handed batsman from outside the off-stump.

It comes as no surprise to find that the term has its origins in casual racism. It originated in the West Indies in 1929-30 where the England and Middlesex batsman "Patsy" Hendren reeled off a succession of huge scores for the MCC tourists. Among the West Indian bowlers who suffered at his hands in Trinidad was Ellis Achong, a left-handed spinner of Chinese descent. Exasperated at his inability to cope with Hendren, he threw in a wrist spinner - bowling him. Hendren, thoroughly disgusted walked back to the pavilion saying "fancy being bowled by a bloody Chinaman".

CHRIS MAUME

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