Ellis Achong

On this day in Caribbean history, August 29, 1986, left-arm spin bowler Ellis Achong died in the twin island republic. Achong was the first cricketer from Trinidad and Tobago of Chinese extraction to play Test cricket appearing for the West Indies in six matches against England. Chosen to tour England in 1933, he played in all three Tests but with limited success, and in all first-class matches that season took 71 wickets.

His stock ball was left-arm orthodox spin but one of his variations was unorthodox left-arm spin. After bowling this variation to have Walter Robins stumped at Old Trafford in 1933, it is reputed that Robins said to the umpire Joe Hardstaff Sr., “fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman”. Learie Constantine is said to have replied: “Do you mean the bowler or the ball?” An unorthodox left-arm spin delivery (spinning from the off side to the leg side for a right-handed batsman) is known as a “chinaman” as a result.

After 1935 he played in the Lancashire leagues until 1951, and having returned to live in Trinidad he stood as an umpire in the 1953-54 Port-of-Spain Test between West Indies and England. In all first-class matches he took 110 wickets at 30.23, his best figures being seven for 73 for Trinidad against British Guiana in 1932-33.

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He returned to Trinidad and Tobago in 1952, and stood as a Test umpire in the 4th Test between West Indies and England at Port of Spain in March 1954, a high-scoring draw in which West Indies scored an imposing 681 for 8 declared, with the 3 “W”s (Everton Weekes, Frank Worrelland Clyde Walcott) all scoring centuries in West Indies’ first innings, and Peter May and Denis Compton doing the same in England’s 537 in reply.

Ellis Achong ultimately became a sports coach with the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Education, coaching and selecting the new comers to the Trinidad and Tobago cricket team.