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Highest Wicket-Taker in Test Cricket

Suresh Iyer
January 20, 2022, 10:24
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Highest Wicket-Taker in Test Cricket

In this article, we look at the top wicket takers in Test cricket. Former Sri Lanka off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan leads the pack with 800 wickets, followed in turn by Australian leg spinner Shane Warne, English fast bowler James Anderson, Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble, and Australian pacer Glenn McGrath.

Muttiah Muralitharan (800 Wickets)

Former Sri Lanka off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 800 wickets in a career that spanned 18 years. Murali began his Test career on 28 August 1992 versus Australia in Colombo in the 2nd of a three-match series. Though he took only three wickets in that game, Murali showed the world a glimpse of things to come when he picked up 7 wickets in his third match against the visiting New Zealand squad in December 1992. But it was not until August 1993 that the legendary bowler achieved his first fifer, when he 5/104 versus the touring South African squad at Moratuwa. It took Murali five more years before he accomplished his first 10-wicket match haul in August 1998 versus England in a one-off match at the Oval. The bowler grabbed 7/155 and 9/65 to help his side to a 10-wicket win. By the end of his career in 2010, he had taken 67 fifers and 22 ten-wicket match hauls, both world records. In 133 matches, Muralitharan took 800 wickets at 22.72, a record that looks unlikely to be surpassed.

Shane Warne (708 Wickets)

Former Australia leg spinner – a legend in his own right – came closest to competing with Muralitharan for the most wickets in Test cricket. Warne made his Test debut in the same year as Murali, when he played against India in Sydney on 2 January 1992 in the third Test of a four-match series. The bowler had a poor start to his career, picking up just one wicket in those two games. When West indies toured Australia in December 1992, Warne took 7/52 in Melbourne to register his first fifer. Warne would go on to take 36 more five-wicket innings hauls in a long career. He also had 10 10-wicket match hauls before he retired from the longest format of the game in 2007. Warne will forever be remembered for delivered what was labelled the ‘ball of the century, when he clean bowled England’s Mike Gatting in a Test match in Manchester in 1993. In 145 Tests, Warne picked up 708 wickets at 25.41, with best bowling returns of 8/71 in an innings.

James Anderson (640 Wickets)

England fast bowler James Anderson began his Test career versus Zimbabwe at Lord’s in May 2003. He made an immediate impact by grabbing 5/73 in his first outing. Anderson became a constant feature of the English team and had to wait until June 2008 for his most spectacular performance. In the third Test of a series versus the visiting New Zealanders in Nottingham, Anderson took 7/43 to help England to an innings victory. Later in his career, the bowler enjoyed his best match figures of 11/71. The outstanding feature of Anderson’s career has been his relatively injury-free run. Anderson, who continues to play Test cricket after a long career of nearly 19 years is among the top 10 wicket takers in Tests, with 640 wickets at 26.58 in 169 matches, including 31 fifers and 3 10-wicket match hauls.

Anil Kumble (619 Wickets)

India’s off spinner Anil Kumble played his first Test match versus England in Manchester in August 1990, in the second Test of a two-match series. He took only three wickets in that match and was dropped from the team. He returned to the Indian squad in October 1992 versus Zimbabwe in Harare. Thereafter, he became a constant feature in the side and went on to take his first fifer (6/53) versus South Africa in Johannesburg in November 1992. The abiding memory of Kumble’s career came in 1999, when he became the second bowler in cricket history to grab all 10 wickets in an innings. He achieved the feat versus Pakistan in the 2nd Test of a three-match series in Delhi.

When Kumble quit Test cricket in 2008, he had established himself as one of the top Test wicket-takers, with 619 wickets at 29.65 in 132 matches, including 35 fifers and 8 10-wicket match hauls.

Glenn McGrath (563 Wickets)

Former Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath who made his Test debut in Perth versus New Zealand in November 1993 is counted among the top wicket-takers in Test cricket. He had to wait until March 1995 before he registered his first five-wicket haul (5/68) in a Test innings versus West Indies in Bridgetown. McGrath registered his best bowling figures in an innings (8/24) against Pakistan in Perth in December 2004, helping his side to a 491-run victory. Arguably his best performance came in the third Test of a series versus India in Sydney in January 2000. The pacer took 5/48 and 5/55 to help Australia to victory by an innings and 141 runs. By the time he quit Test cricket in 2007, McGrath had taken 563 wickets in 124 matches, with 29 fifers and 3 10-wicket match hauls.

Player Team Years M W Avg BBI BBM 5 10
M Muralitharan Sri Lanka 1992-2010 133 800 22.72 9/51 16/220 67 22
S Warne Australia 1992-2007 145 708 25.41 8/71 12/128 37 10
JM Anderson England 2003-2022 169 640 26.58 7/42 11/71 31  3
A Kumble India 1990-2008 132 619 29.65 10/74 14/149 35 8
GD McGrath Australia 1993-2007 124 563 21.64 8/24 10/27 29 3
SCJ Broad England 2007-2022 152 537 27.80 8/15 11/121 19 3
CA Walsh West Indies 1984-2001 132 519 24.44 7/37 13/55 22 3
DW Steyn South Africa 2004-2009  93 439 22.95 7/51 11/60 26 5
Kapil Dev India 1978-1994  131 434 29.64 9/83 11/146 23 2
HMRKB Herath Sri Lanka 1999-2018  93 433 28.07 9/127 14/184 34 9
RJ Hadlee New Zealand 1973-1990 86 431 22.29 9/52 15/123 36 9
R Ashwin India 2011-2022 84 430 24.38 7/59 13/140 30 7
SM Pollock South Africa 1995-2008 108 421 23.11 7/87 10/147 16 1
Harbhajan Singh India 1998-2015 103 417 32.46 8/84 15/217 25 5
NM Lyon Australia 2011-2022 105 415 31.79 8/50 13/154 18 3
Wasim Akram Pakistan 1985-2002 104 414 23.62 7/119 11/110 25 5
CEL Ambrose West Indies 1988-2000 98 405 20.99 8/45 11/84 22 3

 

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