What is a maiden over in the sport of cricket?

Cricket is a sport that can be played in formats that can either last for five days (unlimited overs) or can get over in less than eight hours (limited overs). The objective of the sport is that the team scoring more runs at the end of a scheduled time is declared the winner.

The task of scoring runs is fulfilled by batters whereas bowlers are players that try to restrict the flow of runs. In limited overs cricket like One Day International or T20, run scoring is more frequent compared to test cricket. The aggression and the intent of batters to score runs is less in test cricket compared to limited overs cricket.

When a bowler bowls an over which does not allow the batter to score a single run of his or her bat, then that over is called a maiden. If the batting sides runs are scored off the legs of the batter or without the bowl touching the bat or the batter, then these runs are considered as leg byes or byes respectively. Since these runs are not counted in the batter’s score (as they didn’t come off the bat), an over wherein runs are scored off extras like leg byes or byes still qualifies to be a maiden over.

If a bowler manages to take a wicket and also not give away any runs in the over, then that over is called a maiden wicket or a wicket maiden. If the bowler takes two or three wickets and does not give away any runs, then it is called a double wicket maiden or a triple wicket maiden. The shorter the format of the game, the greater is the value of a maiden over.

In a bowler’s scorecard, maiden is designated by ‘M’. For example, if a bowler’s scorecard reads 4-1-20-2, then it means that the bowler bowled four overs, off which one over was a maiden, gave away twenty runs, and took two wickets.

As of 2024, amongst the full-member nations of the International Cricket Council, India’s Bhuvaneshwar Kumar holds the record for bowling a record ten maiden overs in T20 cricket out of the 298.3 overs he has bowled. In One Day International or 50-overs cricket, South Africa’s Shaun Pollock holds the record for bowling the most maiden. The former captain bowled 313 maiden overs out of the 2618.4 overs he bowler between 1996 to 2008. 

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