What is a Maiden Over in Cricket? A Simple Explanation!

A dot ball is a small event in cricket. It tends to grow on the batsman when the number of dot balls increases. A maiden over is a bowler’s psychological victory over the batsman and often results in the batsman hitting out or getting out. So, what is a maiden over? How does it affect the batsman and the match situation in different formats of the game?

A maiden over is the one where a bowler concedes no runs in a complete over. The over is not a maiden if a wide or no-ball is bowled by the bowler. However, a bye or a leg-bye does not ruin the maiden for the bowler as these runs are not counted against the bowler’s stats.

Interesting. Isn’t it? So how does this maiden over make an impact? How were the bowlers who bowled most maidens in international cricket in different formats of the game? How about a maiden in the super over? Unbelievable? Well, read ahead to get the answers to all your queries.

What is a Maiden Over in Cricket?

A maiden in English is something that is untouched or fresh. A maiden over in cricket is when a bowler does not concede a single run in that over – basically, the over is, figuratively, untouched as no runs were scored off it.

The number of balls in an over may vary. In fact, historically, the number of balls in an over have changed from 4,5, 6, or 8 balls perf over, before settling on 6 balls per over in all the formats of the game in the modern-day cricket. In all such cases, irrespective of the number of balls in the over, it is a maiden over if no runs were scored in that over.

Are Extras Considered as Runs While Considering a Maiden Over?

There are two types of extras in cricket. The ones that are counted in the bowlers’ stats, such as a wide or a no-ball, and others, such as bye or leg-bye, that are not counted against the bowler.

The extras that are counted against a bowlers’ stats are considered while determining whether an over is a maiden or not. Thus, a wide or a no-ball can ruin the maiden over. Whereas, despite conceding byes or leg-byes, the over can be called a maiden over if no run was scored by a bat or a wide, or a no-ball.

What is a Wicket Maiden Over in Cricket?

What is better than a maiden over. A wicket-maiden over. A wicket-maiden is a dream over for any bowler and often the bowler gets the wicket because of the pressure created by the dot balls.

As the name suggests, a wicket maiden is an over in which the bowler not only succeeds in not conceding a single run but also succeeds in taking a wicket.

To attribute a wicket-maiden over to the bowler, the mode of dismissal should be the one where the wicket is assigned to the bowler. For example, Run-out is a team dismissal and it does not belong the bowler.

In such cases, the bowler does not get the credit for bowling a wicket-maiden. Although, from a team’s perspective it is still a wicket-maiden over.

What is the Significance of a Maiden Over in Cricket?

A principle that the great Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath applied throughout his career was – bowl 3 maidens and buy 1 wicket. He used maidens as a weapon to pressurize the batsmen into trying something else to get the scoreboard moving.

A maiden has a different purpose in three different formats of the game. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.

Significance of Maiden Over in Test Matches

Test cricket is a game of patience. Unlike limited-overs cricket, it is possible to save the game despite not winning it. It is called a draw. Batting teams in the unwinnable situation often tend to shut the shop and go for a draw by playing dots after dots to cut any risk whatsoever in batting.

Thus, handing many maidens to the opposition bowlers in the process. Often bowlers are benefited from this approach and accumulate a lot of maidens.

Another unique aspect of Test cricket is negative bowling and fewer field restrictions compared to limited-overs cricket. Barring a few rules, the fielders can be placed anywhere as needed. Also, umpires give bigger leeway to bowlers in terms of rules such as leg-side wide.

All of this makes it easier for the bowlers to bowl dot balls. In crunch situations, when the bowling team is playing for time or want to delay the inevitable, they often resort to negative bowling and earn maidens in the process.

In Tests, the maidens are of strategic importance and like other smaller aspects of the game, they make an impact on the overall outcome of the game although the effect isn’t visible immediately after bowling a maiden over. A single maiden is a non-event in Test cricket. But 15 maidens in a day’s play often help teams produce a wicket or two.

Significance of Maiden Overs in One Day International (ODI) Matches

Shaun Pollock holds the record for most maidens in ODIs (Image Credit)

ODIs are a different ball game. There is always a result with a rare tie. The fielding teams have to adhere to the fielding restrictions, the umpires are very strict with certain rules and thus the bowlers cannot bowl the lines they want always.

A maiden in ODI cricket is not a non-event. It takes bowling very good line and lengths, and a bit of luck at times, to bowl a maiden. The batting team has limited resources and we often see an immediate change of strategy from the batsmen which could go either team’s way.

Teams across the world plan their chases down to each over these days. And a maiden over abrupts those plans thus initiating a chain reaction that often ends up helping the bowling team. Especially in the middle overs between 15 to 35, when the bowling teams are trying to restrict the scoring rate, the economical bowler who can bowl maidens worth his weight in gold.

Significance of Maiden Over in T20 Cricket Matches

The shorter the format, the greater the importance of maiden. In T20 cricket, each team gets 20 overs to play and each bowler gets just 4 overs to bowl.

In such a situation, when a batting team concedes a maiden, it loses 5% of the total overs they can face whereas the bowler ends up completing 25% of his quota without conceding a run!

These are huge percentages in the context of a match. Add to it the fact that the batting teams are always looking to go after the bowlers, it is so very difficult to bowl a maiden in T20 cricket. That is why the top bowler in T20I cricket, Jasprit Bumrah, has bowled just 7 maidens so far.

Smart bowlers with great control over their line and length can achieve this with astute field placement and, of course, a bit of luck. In T20s, a maiden is as big as a wicket if not more.

Has Anyone Bowled a Maiden Super Over in Cricket?

A super over decides the fate of the game, in the ODI knockout matches, and all the T20 matches across the world when the game ends with the scores leveled after the completion of both the innings. Each team gets two wickets and one over to make an impact.

In other words, the super over is the 100% resource each team has. To bowl a maiden in such a scenario is to deprive the batting of their 100% resources.

Sunil Narine, playing for Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, did this unthinkable act of bowling a maiden super over against Guyana Amazon Warriors in the group stage match of Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2017.

Tied at 118 after completing each of their innings, Trinidad and Tobago went batting first in the Super over and managed 11 losing one wicket. The Warriors needed 12 to win in the super over.

Sunil Narine denied Nicholas Pooran and Ross Taylor even a single run and also managed the wicket of Pooran. A wicket maiden Super Over. If it is hard to believe, have a look at it yourself in the video above.

Who has Bowled the Most Consecutive Maiden Overs in Cricket?

The record for most consecutive maidens in cricket goes to Bapu Nadkarni, a left-arm orthodox spinner from India who bowled 21 consecutive maidens against England in 1964 in the first Test of the series.

RG (Bapu) Nadkarni’s stats in that epic spell (Image Source)

Overall, he bowled 21.5 overs, that is 131 deliveries without conceding a run, and without taking a wicket.

Back in 1957, Hugh Tayfield had bowled 137 deliveries without conceding a single run. Although it was in a match where an over consisted of 8 deliveries.

Who has Bowled the Most Maiden Overs in their Career?

In the statistical analysis, let’s take a look at some numbers related to the most number of maidens bowled by bowlers in different formats of the game.

Most Maidens Overs in Test Matches

Tests are a game of patience and generally, the conditions also get tougher as the game progress towards day 4 or 5. Due to the unlimited overs available for batting, batsmen tend to play out tough spells and score later once the going gets easy again.

Here’s a list of bowlers who have bowled the most number of maidens in Test cricket. The Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan is at the top of this list with 1794 maidens in 230 innings in the Test career that lasted for 18 years.

Table showing the most maiden overs bowled in a Test Match Career

Player (Team)Career SpanInningsMaidens
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL)1992-20102301794
SK Warne (AUS)1992-20072731761
A Kumble (INDIA)1990-20082361576
GD McGrath (AUS)1993-20072431470
JM Anderson (ENG)2003-20202911430
LR Gibbs (WI)1958-19761481313
DL Underwood (ENG)1966-19821511239
SM Pollock (SA)1995-20082021222
DL Vettori (ICC/NZ)1997-20141871197
SCJ Broad (ENG)2007-20202631144

Most Maidens Overs by Bowlers in ODIs

Each ball has more value in ODIs than in Tests. One maiden in basically 10% of a bowler’s maximum quota of 10 overs. A maiden in ODIs impacts the batting team a lot and thus it is more difficult to bowl maidens in ODIs.

Here’s is a list of bowlers with maximum maidens in ODIs. South Africa fast bowler Shaun Pollock tops this list with 313 maidens in 297 ODI innings. Muralitharan features in this list as well.

Most Maidens – ODIs

Player (Team)Career SpanInningsMaidens
SM Pollock (Afr/ICC/SA)1996-2008297313
GD McGrath (AUS/ICC)1993-2007248279
WPUJC Vaas (Asia/SL)1994-2008320279
Wasim Akram (PAK)1984-2003351237
N Kapil Dev (INDIA)1978-1994221235
M Muralitharan (Asia/ICC/SL)1993-2011341198
CEL Ambrose (WI)1988-2000175192
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ)1973-1990112185
CA Walsh (WI)1985-2000204185
EJ Chatfield (NZ)1979-1989112155

Most Maiden Overs by Bowlers in T20Is

Dot balls worth their weight in gold in T20 cricket. If it is a bit difficult to bowl maidens in ODIs, it is extremely unlikely to bowl one in T20 cricket.

A maiden in T20 cricket sucks away 5% resources of the batting team. It’s a huge blow for the batting side. The bowlers who bowl maiden in T20 Cricket often open the path for the next bowlers to take wickets because of the pressure created by the maiden over.

Here’s a list of cricketers who have bowled most maidens in T20 cricket so far. Indian pacer Jaspreet Bumrah, who bowls at the start of the innings and at death, tops the list with 7 maidens in 49 T20I innings.

Most Maidens by Bowlers in their T20I Careers

Player (Team)Career SpanInningsMaidens
JJ Bumrah (INDIA)2016-2020497
KMDN Kulasekara (SL)2008-2017586
Harbhajan Singh (INDIA)2006-2016275
DT Johnston (IRE)2008-2013285
BAW Mendis (SL)2008-2014395
Mohammad Amir (PAK)2009-2020505
Mohammad Nabi (AFG)2010-2020775
Mohammad Naveed (UAE)2015-2019315
Sultan Ahmed (UAE)2017-2020225
Abdur Razzak (BDESH)2006-2014334

Most Maidens Bowled by Bowlers (All Formats Combined)

If we consider all the three formats together, Muralitharan comes at the top with as many as 1992 maidens in 583 innings in 19 years of playing career across formats followed by legendary leg spinner Share Warne with 1871 maidens in 464 innings.

Most Maidens – Overall

Player (Team)Career SpanInningsMaidens
M Muralitharan (Asia/ICC/SL)1992-20115831992
SK Warne (AUS/ICC)1992-20074641871
GD McGrath (AUS/ICC)1993-20074931749
A Kumble (Asia/INDIA)1990-20085011685
JM Anderson (ENG)2002-20205011556
SM Pollock (Afr/ICC/SA)1995-20085101536
CA Walsh (WI)1984-20014461329
LR Gibbs (WI)1958-19761511317
DL Vettori (ICC/NZ)1997-20154981297
N Kapil Dev (INDIA)1978-19944481295

Who has Bowled the Most Maiden Overs in a Single Innings of a Cricket Match?

There have been certain matches especially in Test cricket, where the bowlers, such as Bapu Nadkarni discussed above, have bowled many maiden overs in a single innings.

Let’s take a look at such data in different formats of the game.

Note: The lists below are sorted based on the number of maidens and then on the number of runs conceded.

Most Maidens in an innings – TESTS

Robert Peel, also known as Bobby Peel, the English slow left-arm orthodox bowler tops this list with 56 maidens, out of the 102.1 overs, in a single innings in an Ashes Test against Australia back at Melbourne back in 1885.

It is important to note that during those times an over consisted od just 4 deliveries. For the six-ball over, Alfred Valentine, West Indian slow left-arm orthodox bowler, holds the record for the most number of maidens in an innings with 49 maidens out of 92 bowled against England at Nottingham in 1950.

Most Maidens in an innings – TESTS

Player (Team)Overs BowledMaidensRunsOppositionBalls Per Over
R Peel (ENG)102.15678Australia4
TW Garrett (AUS)995588England4
AL Valentine (WI)9249140England6
W Attewell (ENG)714753Australia4
AL Valentine (WI)714779England6
MH Mankad (INDIA)764758England6
E Evans (AUS)734563England4
W Bates (ENG)724352Australia4
S Ramadhin (WI)724386England6
TW Garrett (AUS)724077England4

Most Maidens in an innings – ODIs

In ODIs, the record for most maidens in an innings belongs to West Indian bowler Phill Simmons and Indian left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi. Both of them bowled 8 maidens in an innings. Simmons bowled 8 maidens out of 10 overs against Pakistan in 1992 at Sydney, while Bedi bowled 8 maidens out of 12 overs against East Africa at Leeds in 1975. Simmons and Bedi gave away just 3 and 6 runs, respectively, in those spells.

Most Maidens in an innings – ODI

Player (Team)Overs BowledMaidensRunsOpposition
PV Simmons (WI)1083Pakistan
BS Bedi (INDIA)1286East Africa
SB Joshi (INDIA)1066South Africa
AY Karim (KENYA)8.267Australia
N Kapil Dev (INDIA)869Sri Lanka
Maninder Singh (INDIA)969Bangladesh
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ)12610East Africa
BL Cairns (NZ)10610Sri Lanka
JA Snow (ENG)12611East Africa
DK Lillee (AUS)10612England
JM Anderson (ENG)10612Australia

Most Maidens in an innings – T20Is

A lot of players have bowled 2 maidens in T20 internationals. Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara comes on top with 2 out of two maidens conceding 0 runs against the Netherlands at Chittogram in 2014. Here’s a list of top players with most maidens in a T20I inning.

Most Maidens in an innings – T20Is

Player (Team)Overs BowledMaidensRunsOpposition
KMDN Kulasekara (SL)220Netherlands
S Rossi (Arg)321Mexico
HMRKB Herath (SL)3.323New Zealand
SMK Waththage (CZK-R)324Turkey
P Arrighi (Arg)424Brazil
Asrar Ahmed ()324Serbia
K Gore (USA)425Bermuda
MNM Aslam (KUW)425Iran
RW Price (ZIM)426Canada
SJ Benn (WI)426Zimbabwe
Sultan Ahmed (UAE)426Nigeria

Final Thoughts

A maiden over is seemingly a minute aspect of an inherently complex game called cricket. However, it has a place in the scheme of things. In each format, it plays a different role – from little impact in Test cricket to a significant effect in T20s.

As a bowler, you must be smart enough to understand when to go for wicket and when is the time to put the lid on the scoring. A maiden is a great weapon in the latter case.

As a batsman, it is important to practice temperament to not allow a maiden to affect the patience or the natural game by being too attacking immediately and losing the wicket in the process.

Hope this article helped you understand every there’s to know about a Maiden over.

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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