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10 great bowlers who never bowled a single wide in their entire careers

Hadlee was relentlessly accurate right throughout his career
Hadlee was relentlessly accurate right throughout his career
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Prasad Mandati

Cricket, fondly called as the gentlemen's game, is full of uncertainties. No cricket purist can predict what will happen next. Just a mere mistake can cost a team the match - be it bowling a no-ball or a wide, choosing a wrong shot or a misfield.

Bowling a no-ball is considered a crime as it not only gives the batting team an extra run but also the bowler has to bowl the same delivery again. Even the batsman cannot be adjudged out off a no-ball. To make things even worse, free-hits have been introduced in ODIs and T20Is.

Also Read: 5 bowlers who have never bowled a no-ball in their entire careers

The case with bowling a wide ball is not much different as it also gives the batting team an extra run and requires the bowler to bowl the same delivery again.

In modern-day cricket, we often witness bowlers bowling a no-ball or a wide ball. However, in the history of cricket, there have also been some bowlers with impeccable control. Here we take a look at ten of those legendary perfectionists who have never bowled a wide in their respective careers.

(Note: Statistics of bowlers before the 1980s are somewhat unreliable as the practice of recording no-balls and wides was not as far-reaching as the modern era)


#10 Richard Hadlee

Hadlee picked up 431 wickets in 86 Test matches
Hadlee picked up 431 wickets in 86 Test matches

Sir Richard Hadlee, the former New Zealand former cricketer, is widely regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket. Hadlee single-handedly carried the burden of New Zealand's bowling for over 17 years.

With his right-arm fast bowling and handy batting, Hadlee had been a match-winner for New Zealand in his playing days. He ended his illustrious Test career with 431 scalps in 86 Tests and remained the highest wicket-taker for an extended period of time before another great all-rounder of his time, Kapil Dev eclipsed his tally. Hadlee was so accurate in his time that he never delivered a single wide in his career.

During his 17-year career, Hadlee played 86 Tests and picked up 431 wickets and scored 3124 runs at an average of 27.17. He has also represented New Zealand in 115 ODIs and claimed 158 wickets and scored 1751 runs at an average of 21.35.

#9 Lance Gibbs

Lance Gibbs was the second bowler after Fred Trueman to take 300 Test wickets
Lance Gibbs was the second bowler after Fred Trueman to take 300 Test wickets

Lance Gibbs is a former West Indies player who is primarily considered as one of the most successful spinners in the history of Test cricket. He was one of the very few bowlers who had an economy rate of under two runs per over.

Gibbs was the second player after England's great Fred Trueman to take 300 Test wickets. He was the first spinner to achieve that feat. As he made his ODI debut at the age of 39, he could not get too many chances, and played only three matches for the West Indies.

Known for his exemplary control, the Georgetown-born cricketer has never bowled a wide or a no-ball in his entire career.

The off-spinner donned the West Indies jersey in 79 Tests, and three ODIs. He picked up a total of 311 wickets. He also had 18 five-wicket hauls to his name.

#8 Clarrie Grimmett

Clarrie Grimmett is often credited as the inventor of the flipper
Clarrie Grimmett is often credited as the inventor of the flipper

Clarrie Grimmett was a former international cricketer who was born in New Zealand but represented Australia in international cricket. He is regarded as one of the finest spin bowlers of the early cricket days. The leg-spinner is also credited as the inventor of the flipper with which he had flummoxed even the best of the batsmen of his time.

Initially, Grimmett wanted to become a fast bowler but after one of his schoolmasters advised him to take up spin bowling, he decided to become a leg spinner. He made his first-class debut for Wellington at the age of 17. But as New Zealand was not a test playing nation at that time, he moved to Australia in 1914.

In his career, he played 37 Tests. The leg-spinner bowled 14453 balls without conceding a wide ball and mustered 216 wickets including 21 five-wicket hauls.

#7 Derek Underwood

Derek Underwood was known for his consistent accuracy
Derek Underwood was known for his consistent accuracy

Derek Underwood is a former English international cricketer who also acted as a President of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Though Underwood was a slow left-arm orthodox spinner, he bowled at around medium pace and was most of the times unplayable in wet conditions. Underwood was known for his consistent accuracy because of which he never gave an extra run in the form of wide to his opposition teams. His inswinging arm ball was so famous for catching batsmen leg before wicket. According to the retrospective ICC Test bowler rankings, Underwood was top-ranked from September 1969 to August 1973.

His first-class record of 676 matches and jaw-dropping 2465 wickets with 153 five-wicket hauls, will take everybody by surprise.

Underwood played 86 Tests and 26 ODIs in his career, taking 297 and 32 wickets respectively. He was the youngest to take 100 county wickets in his debut season.

#6 Garry Sobers

Garry Sobers was once termed by Bradman as a "five in one cricketer."
Garry Sobers was once termed by Bradman as a "five in one cricketer."

Sir Garfield Sobers, is a former West Indies cricketer who served the Caribbean team for over two decades. He is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest all-rounders who have ever graced the game of cricket.

Garry Sobers was once termed by Bradman as a "five in one cricketer", as there is nothing this legend from West Indies cannot do. He was a world-class all-rounder when it came to batting and bowling. Given his wicket-keeping skills, Sobers was a complete package and an all-rounder in the real sense.

Off the 20660 balls he bowled in international cricket, there was not even a single extra run that he gave away to the opposition in the form a wide.

The Barbados born cricketer played 93 tests and a solitary ODI for West Indies. He picked up 236 wickets with his left-arm fast-medium and scored 8032 runs at an average of 57.78.

#5 Imran Khan

Imran Khan changed the way Pakistani cricket was perceived
Imran Khan changed the way Pakistani cricket was perceived

Imran arrived at the scene when there was more emphasis on individual performances in Pakistani cricket than the team victory. With his exceptional captaincy and cricketing skills, Khan changed the way Pakistani cricket perceived. Khan took over the captaincy in 1982 and went on to become the first Pakistani captain to thrash India in their home den in 1987.

He is famously remembered as the only captain to win Pakistan to a World Cup win in 1992. Imran played a crucial in the finals with by scoring a match-winning knock of 72 runs with the bat and picking up a crucial wicket.

The charismatic leader of Pakistani cricket has never in his life gave an extra run in the form of a no-ball or a wide.

The 66-year-old played 88 Tests and 175 ODIs for Pakistan. He scored 3807 and 3709 runs and picked 362 wickets and 182 wickets respectively.

#4 Ian Botham

Ian Botham is largely acknowledged as one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket
Ian Botham is largely acknowledged as one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket

The former England cricketer, Ian Botham, is largely recognised as one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket. During the 1980s, Botham was a genuine match-winner for England with both bat and ball in Tests, and ODIs.

With his brilliant cricket skills, Botham became the first player to score a century and take ten wickets in a Test match. In his entire 16-year cricketing career, the English great showed the world how disciplined he is in his work by never giving away even a run to the opposition in the form of an extra.

During his illustrious career, Botham represented England in 102 Tests, and 116 ODIs. He picked up 383 and 145 wickets and scored 5200 and 2113 runs respectively. For his invaluable services to the game of cricket, Botham was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.

#3 Dennis Lillee

Dennis Lillee is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers ever to grace the game of cricket
Dennis Lillee is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers ever to grace the game of cricket

Dennis Lillee is widely considered to be one of the greatest fast bowlers to have ever graced the game of cricket. Considered a complete fast bowler, he was a vital cog of the Australian team in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Lillee was extremely fast in his early days, but several stress fractures in his back almost cost him his career. But being the real fighter he was, he fought hard on his fitness and came back to international cricket. At the time of his retirement from international cricket in 1984, Lillee was the world record holder for most Test wickets.

During his 13 years of international cricket, Lillee played 70 Tests, and 63 ODIs. He picked up 355 wickets and 103 wickets respectively. He also had 23 five-wicket hauls, and seven ten-wicket hauls to his name in Tests.

With his impeccable control, the legendary Aussie never bowled a no-ball or a wide in his entire career.

#2 Bob Willis

Willis was one of the chief architects of England's triumph in 1981 Ashes
Willis was one of the chief architects of England's triumph in 1981 Ashes

Bob Willis led England bowling attacks in Tests and ODIs from 1971 to 1984. Wills was one of the chief architects of England's victory in the 1981 Ashes in which they went onto register a near-impossible win after having followed on in Headingley. His 8-43 in that match will go down in the history of Ashes as one of the all-time best bowling performances.

With 325 wickets and 16 five-wicket hauls in 90 Tests at 25.20, Willis was second only to Dennis Lillee at the time of his retirement. He is currently England's fourth-highest wicket-taker, behind James Anderson, Ian Botham, and Stuart Broad.

Besides his illustrious Test career, Willis also represented England in 64 ODIs and mustered 80 wickets. Known for his strict work ethic, Bills has never in his life delivered a wide ball at the highest level.

#1 Fred Trueman

Fred Trueman, along with Brian Statham, formed one of the fiercest bowling partnerships in the 1950s.
Fred Trueman, along with Brian Statham, formed one of the fiercest bowling partnerships in the 1950s.

Fred Trueman represented England in the longest format for over two decades, starting from 1948. He is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. Trueman, along with Brian Statham, formed one of the fiercest bowling partnerships in the 1950s.

In 603 first-class matches, Trueman picked up a jaw-dropping 2304 wickets. From his 67 Test appearances, he mustered 307 wickets with his best being 8/31. He has picked up 100 wickets in a season on 12 occasions. With outstanding control over his bowling, not once did Trueman give away an extra run with a wide ball.

Edited by Ram Kumar
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