Top 10 bowlers with most wickets in test cricket
Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka holds the record for most wickets in test cricket.
Bowlers are the balancing act in cricket for the batters. While not as appreciated as the players with the willow, the bowlers have always been the stars for their teams, as they are the ones to win the matches by bowling out the opposition.
The epitome of a bowler’s test is test cricket, where they can bowl unlimited overs, which tests their abilities, stamina, and skills to cope with pressure. There are instances in cricket where bowlers have proven their worth by winning matches single-handedly. The game has seen some great bowlers since its start.
Therefore, today let’s have a look at the top 10 bowlers with most wickets in test cricket:
10. Dale Steyn (South Africa) – 439 wickets
The South African announced himself in test cricket, against England in 2004, and went on to become one of the most celebrated bowlers of all time. The African legend is probably the best fast bowler of the last decade.
He has taken 439 wickets in 93 matches in his 15-year test cricket career (2004–2019). His cricketing journey has been full of injuries. But until the end of his te stcareer, he bowled with everything he had. He is the only bowler to take five wickets against each test-playing nation to date.
He is the highest wicket-taker for South Africa in test cricket and held onto the No. 1 test bowler ranking for six consecutive years (2008–2014).
9. Ravichandran Ashwin (India) – 500 wickets
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin might be classified as a spinner, but he is a genuine all-rounder with more than 3,000 runs to his name and five centuries as well in test cricket.
However, his biggest service to India has been as an off-spinner; he made his test debut in 2011 against West Indies and has gone on to become one of the leading wicket-takers in world cricket. His performances helped India transition from Harbhajan Singh, whose form waned towards the end of his career.
He occupies the ninth spot in terms of taking the most test wickets, with 500* wickets in 98 games. The spin wizard recently surpassed Kapil Dev to become India’s second-highest wicket-taker. Maintaining a decent average of 23.79, Ashwin has bagged 34 fifers to date.
8. Nathan Lyon (Australia) – 517 wickets
Nathan Lyon made his test debut in 2011 against Sri Lanka, taking a wicket with his first delivery of his career for Australia, and ended with a fifer to his name as well. Now he is known as the greatest off-spinner to ever play for Australia.
He has so far taken 517 wickets in 127 tests for Australia, with 23 five-wicket hauls so far and registering four ten-wicket hauls as well.
7. Courtney Walsh (West Indies) – 519 wickets
Courtney Walsh of West Indies was the first bowler to reach the 500-wicket mark and is one of the best fast bowlers of all time. Walsh played his first test match in 1984 against Australia and ended his career as the highest wicket-taker for West Indies with 519 wickets in 132 matches.
Walsh formed one of the fiercest opening bowling partnerships with Curtly Ambrose and even captained the West Indies team with some success.
6. Glenn McGrath (Australia) – 563 wicRkets
Considered to be one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, Glenn McGrath played 14 years of test cricket from 1993–2007 and bagged 563 wickets in his 124 test career.
Known for his immaculate line and length, McGrath is one of the handful of bowlers to take a test hat-trick, a feat he achieved against West Indies in 2001. His best bowling performance of 8/24 came against Pakistan, and till date he remains the highest wicket-taking pace bowler for Australia in tests.
5. Stuart Broad (England) – 604 wickets
Stuart Broad of England recently became only the second fast bowler ever to take 600 test wickets in the Ashes 2023 series. He joined his countryman and opening partner, James Anderson on the list.
Having made his England test debut in 2007, Broad matured to become one of the greatest pacers England has ever produced. The Nottingham-born player has represented England in 166 matches and took 604 wickets, consisting of 20 fifers.
His best bowling performance of 8 for 15 came in the 2015 Ashes against Australia. A handy batsman, Stuart Broad also has a test century to his name, when he scored 169 against Pakistan. He is also one of the few bowlers to take more than one hat-trick in tests.
4. Anil Kumble (India) – 619 wickets
India’s Anil Kumble is 4th in the list of most test wicket-takers with 619 scalps in his 132 test matches. Kumble made his test debut for India in 1990 against England and played his final match against Australia in 2008.
He has taken 35 five-wicket hauls in the longest format of the game. He is remembered for his record-breaking haul of 10/74, when he became only the second bowler to take all 10 wickets in a test innings after Jim Laker. He achieved the feat in the 1999 Delhi test against Pakistan.
3. James Anderson (England) – 696 wickets
Perhaps the greatest pace bowler England have produced, James Anderson has carried on in his long career, which started in 2003 against Zimbabwe and still chugs along. In 185 tests, the second-most in test history behind Sachin Tendulkar’s 200 matches, the 41-year-old Anderson has picked up 696 wickets.
He is called “Swing King,” who can swing the ball both ways and has picked 32 fifers in tests. He is nearing to become the first fast bowler to take 700 test wickets, and it would be an epic achievement for him if he attains that record.
2. Shane Warne (Australia) – 708 wickets
The late great Shane Warne was the first bowler to take 700 wickets in tests, and he finished his career with 708 wickets to his name. Having made his test debut against India in 1992, Warne went on to become the greatest leg-spinner the world has seen.
He played 145 tests and took 37 five-wicket hauls, which included a hat-trick against England in 1994. Unfortunately, we lost this genius at the age of 52 in 2022.
1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 800 wickets
Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka will most likely remain the highest wicket-taker in tests for a long time as no currently active bowler is even near his haul of a record 800 wickets. He made his test debut for Sri Lanka against Australia in 1992.
Possessing one of the most interesting and controversial bowling actions, Murali played tests for 18 years and picked 800 scalps in 133 tests with a record 67 five-wicket hauls and remains the only bowler in test history with two 9-wicket hauls in Test history.
(All stats updated till 16th February, 2024)
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