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.
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
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 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 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 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
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.