COMMENT: It's time cricket changes its Chinaman narrative

Barnaby Read 25/03/2017
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Kuldeep Yadav's Chinaman action put Australia to the sword.

There is a beauty and richness to cricket’s vocabulary, its long history of the genteel practitioners that lends to a nuanced vernacular like no other sport.

We have googlie, there is meaning to legs before wickets and king pairs, an undeniable link between leather and willow that you either smell or yield, two blokes named Duckworth and Lewis causing manic checks of spreadsheets and a litany of others that make it one of the most convoluted sporting dictionaries in the world.

To the untrained linguist that is. To those well versed, however, it is a language that makes perfect sense and is one to revel in the depths of.

This terminology has stood the test of time, each surviving the modernity of Twenty20 and are still uttered with the same mixture of bafflement and nods in agreement that they always have to both the unfamiliar and the familiar.

There is an archaic reverence to cricketing tongues which, for the most part, still hold relevance today.

But, among the colossus volumes of cricketing words and wordplay, there is one so archaic and out of touch with modern society it surely has no place in the sport. Or at least the etymology needs some reimagining.

Rumour has it that way back in 1933, Eliss “Puss” Achong, the first known Test cricketer of Chinese descent, ripped one from off-stump to leg-stump with a left-arm leg-spinner to dismiss England’s Walter Robbins.

It was, surely, one of the most incredible of sights as the art of left-arm wrist spin spat into consciousness like the ball off the wicket by the West Indian.

As the tale goes, Robbins, baffled and bemused, then walked past the umpire and uttered the words “fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman.”

And the legend states that from there the term left-arm Chinaman was given to southpaw leggies, a moniker born out of the casual racism of a future England captain.

It’s debatable whether this exchange ever happened but it is one that the sport is happy to wheel out, electing the narrative to be driven by Robbins’ off-colour remark rather than, say, focusing on the barriers Achong was breaking down 90 years ago.

And so, as Kuldeep Yadav tore apart the Australian batting order on day one of the fourth Test with Australia, the commentators giggled and fawned over the tale of Robbins’ statement.

Not an ounce of irony, not the faintest edge of distain for what is clearly a story that hinges on an Englishman’s indignant response toward a foreigner, a la modern-day Brexit narratives albeit in an era where such an utterance would have drawn little outrage.

But it is not 1933, it is 2017 and there is no place for such antiquated terms and it shows that cricket is still out of touch with the modern world.

Anyway, surely left-arm leg-spinner or left-arm wrist spinner is just fine?

And if not, and we stick to Chinaman, how about we put a more positive spin on things and remember the term for the brilliance of Achong, not the contempt he was met with by his opponent.

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Kuldeep has impressed on debut so far [Sportzpics]

India were dealt a big blow before the start of the series decider against Australia as captain Virat Kohli’s shoulder injury will see him sit out what could have possibly been the most important match of his captaincy career so far.

With Kohli missing out, the hosts have gone back to the five-bowler strategy, with left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav handed a Test debut. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been included in the XI in place of Ishant Sharma.

Australia, who won the toss and elected to bat first, have named an unchanged team.

Don’t miss any of the action from the fourth Test – with LIVE commentary from Guerilla Cricket:

Alternatively, you can also follow the LIVE scorecard with text commentary of the match below.

Share your thoughts on the Dharamsala Test with us by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

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India vs Australia: Fourth Test preview & prediction

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Peter Handscomb and Virat Kohli shake hands after the Ranchi Test [Sportzpics]

At the start of the series between India and Australia, not many people would have predicted that the series would still be alive heading into the final Test.

Nearly everyone expected India to steamroll the Australian team, especially considering the record of the visitors in Asian conditions in the recent past. But that’s not how things have played out.

Australia, under the captaincy of Steve Smith, have fought hard and now go into the final Test needing just a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

With the series level at 1-1, there is pressure on the Indian team to force a result at the picturesque HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. The hosts have won every Test series at home over the last four years and will not want that run to end here.

DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO

Date: 25 March – 29 March 2017

Time: 09:30 local time (IST), 04:00 GMT, 08:00 GST

Venue: HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala.


WHERE TO WATCH, LIVE STREAMING INFO

TV: UAE – OSN Sports Cricket HD, India – Star Sports 1, HD 1 [English], Star Sports 3, HD 3 [Hindi]

Online streaming: hotstar.com, Hotstar app [in India only]

LIVE blog: Sport360 blog


TEAM NEWS, SQUAD, PREDICTED XI

INDIA SQUAD: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Iyer.

The big talking point before the start of the Dharamsala Test is, of course, the availability of India captain Virat Kohli. The 28-year-old is a doubtful starter after having injured his shoulder in the previous match in Ranchi.

Kohli, in the pre-match press conference, said that he will play only if he is 100% fit after undergoing fitness tests. If he does not play, it will come as a huge blow for the Indian team as not only is he the skipper but also one of the best batsmen in the side.

Shreyas Iyer has been called into the side as a back-up and could get a game if, (i) Kohli is not fit, and (ii) the Indian think-tank decide to stick with the four-bowler strategy.

In the bowling front, Mohammed Shami has been added to the squad and is likely to feature in the match.

PREDICTED INDIA XI: Vijay, Rahul, Pujara, Kohli (c), Rahane, Karun, Saha (wk), Ashwin, Jadeja, Umesh, Shami.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O’Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins.

The pitch in Dharamsala is expected to have a bit more in it for the pacers compared to the previous wickets in the series and hence, there is talk that Australia might play an extra pace bowler.

So far, in all the Test matches on this tour, the Australians have gone in with two fast bowlers and two spinners, but one of the spinners could make way for Jackson Bird on Saturday.

Although opening batsman David Warner has been out of form, there are no questions about his place in the side.

PREDICTED AUSTRALIA XI: Warner, Renshaw, Smith (c), S Marsh, Handscomb, Maxwell, Wade (wk), Cummins, O’Keefe, Lyon, Hazlewood.


FORM

(Last five Test matches – with latest match first)

INDIA: D W L W W

AUSTRALIA: D L W W W


MATCH PREDICTION

India to win.

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