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Most Maiden Overs in Test Cricket

Suresh Iyer
February 18, 2022, 10:41
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Most Maiden Overs in Test Cricket

In this article, we look at bowlers who have bowled the most maiden overs in Test cricket. Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan leads the pack, with 1792 maidens out of 7339 overs bowled. The legendary off-spinner’s frugality was best reflected in his remarkable bowling average of 22.73 while taking 800 wickets in 133 matches.

Muttiah Muralitharan (1792 Maidens)

Sri Lanka’s bowling legend Muttiah Muralitharan has taken the most Test wickets (800) among all bowlers, a record that may never be broken. In 133 Test matches, Muralitharan has also set a record for the most maiden overs bowled — 1792 — another record that may stay unbroken forever. Batsmen were forever wary while facing the off-spinner who was known for his variations. His unpredictability with the ball helped the Sri Lankan bowling wizard to keep batsmen constantly under pressure in all playing conditions. Consequently, batsmen tried to survive at the wicket rather than score runs against Murali. His ability to keep batsmen on a tight leash is best reflected in his astonishing average of 22.73.

Shane Warne (1762 Maidens)

Former Australian leg spinner Shane Warne was renowned for his precision in line and length over a Test career that lasted 145 matches. As a result, he bowled as many as 1762 maidens out of a total of 6784 overs. His accuracy helped Warne keep rival batters on their toes. Warne accounted for over 700 wickets in a career that coincided with that of Australian paceman Glenn McGrath. The duo combined to make Australia the best cricket-playing nation for nearly two decades.

James Anderson (1581 Maidens)

England fast bowler James Anderson — the only currently active player on this list — is justifiably counted among the greatest pace bowlers in Tests. Anderson holds the record for the highest number of wickets by a fast bowler — 640 victims in 169 matches. With his ability to change the course of a game with a single spell, Anderson has commanded respect from batsmen throughout his career. With 1581 maiden overs out of 6066 bowled, his frugality is duly reflected in his admirable average of 26.60.

Anil Kumble (1575 Maidens)

India’s former leg-spin bowling legend Anil Kumble became his side’s greatest match-winner in Tests. Fiercely competitive throughout a career that lasted over a decade, Kumble was extremely difficult to score against, as reflected by his 1575 maiden overs out of 6808 bowled. With 619 wickets to his name from 132 matches, Kumble is the top wicket-taker for India.

Glenn McGrath (1470 Maidens)

Counted among the greatest fast bowlers of all time, Glenn McGrath played 124 Test matches for Australia in which he took 563 wickets at an astounding average of 21.60. He was renowned for machine-like consistency. His ability to hit the perfect line and length in over after over accounted for his high rate of maiden overs – nearly one of every three bowled. In fact, McGrath had 1470 maidens in 4784 overs bowled.

Lance Gibbs (1313 Maidens)

West Indies have always been renowned for the fast bowlers they have produced over the years. Lance Gibbs was an exception. He was an off-break bowler from the Caribbean who went on to be rated among the greatest spin bowlers of the game. With over 1300 maidens from 4519 overs bowled, Gibbs proved that he was not simply a change of bowling aimed at giving respite to the team’s fast bowlers. Over the course of 79 Tests, Gibbs took 309 wickets, the highest number of Test scalps at the time.

Derek Underwood (1239 Maidens)

Underwood was an off-spinner who represented England in the sixties and seventies, an era in which pitchers were left uncovered. Often overnight rain would wreak havoc on an uncovered track and nobody could exploit such conditions better than Underwood. His tally of 1239 maiden overs from 3643 bowled in 86 Tests in which he took 297 wickets is proof of the bowler’s accuracy and patient ability to extract returns.

Shaun Pollock (1211 Maidens)

Rival batsmen found Shaun Pollock’s deceptive bounce and pace hard to handle. The bowling all-rounder from South Africa was hard to score against and his 1211 maiden overs from 4058 bowled is ample proof of his economy. Pollock partnered paceman Allan Donald in the nineties to help South Africa count among the top Test-playing nations. In the process, Pollock grabbed 421 wickets in 108 matches at a startling average of 23.10.

Daniel Vettori (1197 Maidens)

The lone New Zealander on this list, Daniel Vettori, carved his own identity as a world-class spinner. With 1197 maiden overs from 4802 overs bowled in 113 matches, Vettori was a picture of consistency. His ability to go after batsmen ball after ball paid rich dividends, helping Vettori to grab 362 wickets while being hard to score against.

Courtney Walsh (1144 Maidens)

West Indies paceman Courtney Walsh became synonymous with longevity and consistency while playing 132 Test matches in which he took 519 wickets. Remarkably, he was able to sustain a bowling average of 24.40, which is a standing testament to his fitness and consistency in a career that lasted well over a decade. That astounding average was made possible by a large number of maiden overs (1144) out of a total of 5003 delivered.

 Bowlers with the Most Maiden Overs in Test Cricket History

Player Tests Overs Maidens Wickets Average
Muttiah Muralitharan 133 7339 1792 800 22.73
Shane Warne 145 6784 1762 700 25.42
James Anderson 169 6066 1581 640 26.60
Anil Kumble 132 6808 1575 619 29.60
Glenn McGrath 124 4784 1470 563 21.60
Lance Gibbs 79 4519 1313 309 29.10
Derek Underwood 86 3643 1239 297 25.84
Shaun Pollock 108 4058 1211 421 23.10
Daniel Vettori 113 4802 1197 362 34.40
Courtney Walsh 132 5003 1144 519 24.40

 

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