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Top 9 bowlers fastest to reach 500 wickets in test cricket

Published at :February 16, 2024 at 3:09 PM
Modified at :February 16, 2024 at 3:12 PM
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Saurabh Anand


Only nine bowlers have taken 500 or more wickets in test cricket so far.

In the most old and prestigious format of the game, test cricket, only a few bowlers have managed to pick over 500 wickets in their careers. Only nine bowlers have managed to pick over 500 wickets in test cricket history, in which, four are fast bowlers and four are spinners.

Three Australian bowlers have picked over 500 wickets in the longest format of the game, while two bowlers from England, India and one each from Sri Lanka and West Indies have managed to cross the barrier.

Late Shane Warne was the first ever bowler to pick 500 wickets in test cricket on 8 March, 2004 and right after eight days, on 16 March, 2004, Muttiah Muralitharan became second bowler to achieve this figure in this format of the game. But who has achieved this record in fewest matches taken?

Let’s have a look at top nine bowlers fastest to pick 500 wickets in test cricket:

9. Stuart Broad (England) – 140 matches:

Stuart Broad 8/15 vs Australia
Stuart Broad. (Image Source: ECB)

Stuart Broad made his test debut against Sri Lanka at SSC, Colombo in 2007 and went on to play 167 test matches for England during his career. In his career of 167 matches from 2007 to 2023, Broad picked up 604 wickets for his nation. Broad became seventh bowler to pick up 500 wickets in test cricket in 2020 and he took 140 matches to get to the milestone. Broad picked his 500th test wicket against West Indies at Old Trafford in July 2020. Broad called time on his international career in 2023 after the Ashes series at home.

8. James Anderson (England) – 129 matches:

James Anderson
James Anderson. (Image Source: BCCI)

Legendary pace bowler James Anderson is third highest wicket-taker in test cricket. In a career span of more than 21 years, James Anderson has been a prolific wicket-taker for the English side. In September 2017, Anderson became sixth bowler overall and third pacer to pick 500 wickets in test cricket. His 500th test wicket came against West Indies at Lord’s on 7th September, 2017. Anderson took 129 matches to complete 500 test wickets. Anderson made his test debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 at the Lord’s.

7. Courtney Walsh (West Indies) – 129 matches:

Courtney Walsh
Courtney Walsh. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Former West Indies pace bowler Courtney Walsh was first ever bowler to pick 500 or more wickets in test cricket when he achieved this landmark figure against South Africa at Port of Spain in 2001. Walsh took 129 matches to reach this figure in the longest format of the game. Across his test career from 1984-2001, Walsh played 132 matches for West Indies and picked up 519 scalps.

6. Nathan Lyon (Australia) – 123 matches:

Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon had a terrific journey from a groundsman to a legendary off-spinner. Nathan Lyon became the eighth bowler to pick up 500 test wickets. Lyon picked his 500th test wicket against Pakistan at Optus Stadium in Perth on 14 December, 2023. He took 123 test matches to reach this special milestone in his career. Nathan Lyon made his test debut against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2011. He is third Australian bowler to pick up more than 500 test wickets.

5. Glenn McGrath (Australia) – 110 matches:

Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath. (Image Source: Twitter)

Known for his accuracy, legendary pace bowler Glenn McGrath had an outstanding career for Australia in test cricket. The 1.95m-tall pace bowler made a good use of his height and accuracy to pick up 563 test wickets in 124 games. Glenn McGrath’s 500th test wicket came in a special Ashes test against England at the Lord’s played in iconic 2005 series. McGrath took 110 test matches to complete this milestone. He made his test debut against New Zealand at the WACA, Perth in 1993.

4. Shane Warne (Australia) – 108 matches:

Shane Warne
Shane Warne. (Image Source: Getty)

Shane Warne was the first ever spin bowler to pick up more than 500 test wickets. Depite playing more of his games on hard and bouncy Australian pitches, Warne picked up wickets at ease with his magical leg-spin. Shane Warne picked up his 500th test wicket in his 108th game against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2004. Warne went on to finish his career with 708 test wickets in 145 games. He made his test debut against India at SCG in 1992. Sadly, Warne passed away in March 2022 aged 52.

3. Anil Kumble (India) – 105 matches:

Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble (Image Source: PTI)

Fondly known as “Jumbo,” Anil Kumble is still the leading wicket-taker for India in test cricket with 619 scalps to his name. He became third spinner and overall fifth bowler in 2006 to pick 500 wickets in test cricket. His 500th test scalp came against England in 105th match of his career in Mohali. Anil Kumble made his test debut against England at the Old Trafford in 1990 and went on to play 132 matches for India till 2008. He was one of the greatest match-winners for India in the longest format of the game.

2. Ravichandran Ashwin (India) – 98 matches:

Ravi Ashwin
Ravi Ashwin. (Image Source: AFP)

On February 16, 2024, Ravi Ashwin became only ninth bowler to join the elusive list of bowlers with 500 or more wickets in test cricket. Ashwin dismissed Zak Crawley as his 500th scalp in third of the five-match test series between India and England in Rajkot. Ashwin became second Indian bowler to pick 500 wickets in this format of the game. Ashwin took only 98 matches to complete 500 wickets in test cricket, which is overall second fastest by any bowler and fastest by an Indian bowler.

1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 87 matches:

Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Spin maestro Muttiah Muralitharan is the quickest bowler in the world to pick up 500 test wickets. Former Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan completed this milestone in 87th match of his test career, which will be almost unthinkable for others to cross. Murali’s 500th test dismissal came against Australia in Kandy in 2004. Murali made his test debut against the same opposition at RPS Colombo in 1992. He is also the leading wicket-taker in test cricket with 800 wickets in 133 games.

(All stats updated till 16th February, 2024)

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