Cricket is incomplete without bowlers, who make up a crucial part of the game. There are two types of bowlers, namely pacers and spinners. Pacers can be further divided into fast and swing bowlers, whereas spinners can be divided into wrist and finger spinners. Under these sub-categories, there are several other variations as well. Bowlers have trained for several years to master bowling styles favorable to them and only a few have managed to reach the top level. Regarding Test Cricket, it is not easy to get on the list of most test wickets. It takes new players years to get on board with the International team in the first place and then another 10 or more years to set records or become the highest wicket taker in test matches.
Some bowlers may be successful by having the highest test wickets for their nation while the best of the best will have the most test wickets in the history of cricket.
List of Top 10 Bowlers with Most Test Wickets in Cricket
There have been some spectacular bowlers since the day the sport started, who have proved their value by single-handedly winning their team matches. Muttiah Muralitharan from Sri Lanka is the highest wicket taker in test cricket history. Not only does he have the highest test wickets but also a shocking average and record.
Shane Warne, the best leg spinner in Cricket history is one of the bowlers batsmen all over the world feared to face because of his dangerous deliveries. Whereas, bowlers like Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon have recently entered the list of highest wicket takers after having phenomenal seasons not only these past few years but right since the start of their careers.
Let’s take a look at the top ten bowlers with the most test wickets who have had a huge impact on the game.
|7||West Indies||Courtney Walsh||519||132||24.45||2.53||7-37|
|9||South Africa||Dale Steyn||439||93||22.95||3.24||7-51|
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – Highest Wicket Taker in Test
Muttiah Muralitharan from Sri Lanka has the most wickets in test history. He was a Right Arm Offbreak spin bowler and was known for his unique bowling style. He made his debut in test cricket in 1992 against Australia. Muralitharan has an astonishing total of 800 wickets to his name in the 133 matches he has played, making him the highest wicket taker, with an average of 22.73.
In 1998, Muralitharan took 9 wicks against England, but Alex Stewart was a runout. In 2002, he again managed to pull off the ordeal against Zimbabwe. He played test cricket for 18 years, with his last match against India in 2010, where he took 8 wickets. His impressive records and success against almost every batsman in the world make him arguably the best bowler.
Shane Warne (Australia)
Shane Warne is the second-highest test wicket taker with 708 wickets in just 145 matches. The Australian has an average of 25.42 and his best record was 8-71 versus England in 1994. He is the best leg spinner to ever exist and is known for troubling batsmen all around the world. His test career span lasted from 1992 to 2007. He grabbed a couple of wickets in his last test match against England and still stays in second place for the highest test wicket for 13 years now.
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James Anderson (England)
When it comes to pace bowlers, James Anderson is the highest wicket taker in test cricket history. He made his first appearance for England against Zimbabwe in the year 2003. He is popularly known as the “Swing King” because of his ability to swing the ball both ways. James Anderson has a total of 664 wickets to his name in just 174 matches along with 32 fifers! He has an average of 26.79 and got his best figures of 7-42 against West Indies in 2008.
Anil Kumble (India)
Anil Kumble is the highest wicket taken in a test match for India. He is a Right arm Leg Break Spin bowler, although he wouldn’t spin the ball much with a pace over 100km/hr. Batsmen took around 16 years to figure out that he didn’t actually spin the ball. Anil made his test debut against England in 1990 and hung up his boots in 2008 when he played his final match against Australia.
During this period of time, Kumble bagged 619 wickets in the 132 matches that he played, making him one of the leading wicket takers in the world. His 10/74 against Pakistan in Delhi holds the record for the best bowling figures by a bowler in Test cricket history. Kumble has taken a stunning 35 five-wicket hauls and has an average of 29.66.
Stuart Broad (England)
Stuart Broad is an English Right Arm fast bowler who has the 5th most wickets in test history. Ever since he made his debut against Sri Lanka in 2007 Broad has gotten 566 wickets(which consist of 18 fifers) in the 159 test matches that he has played so far. His best performance so far was against Australia in the 2015 Ashes season where he got a staggering 8 wickets conceding merely 15 runs. He also has a great average of 27.77 which will only keep getting better with his world-class performances.
Glenn McGrath (Australia)
Glenn McGrath is a Right Arm Fast bowler who played test cricket for 14 years from 1993 to 2007. He is also the leading test wicket taker amongst bowlers of Australia and was well-known for his line, length, and swing. The Aussie legend has the best bowling average (21.6) compared to the top 10 highest wicket takers of all time.
Throughout his career, he has managed to get a whopping 563 matches in just 124 test matches while crossing the 5 wickets mark 29 times. He has the best bowling average (21.6) among the top 10 highest wicket-takers. McGrath’s best figures came in 2004 in the first test against Pakistan. He took 8 wickets while conceding just 24 runs.
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Courtney Walsh (West Indies)
Courtney Walsh is a West Indian Right Arm Fast bowler who also happens to be the only Caribbean player on the list with the highest wickets in Test Cricket. Walsh is considered one of the best fast bowlers of all time and has taken the 6th most wickets in test cricket history. He debuted in 1984 against Australia and by the end of his career in 2001, he had a mind-blowing 519 wickets to his name in the 132 matches that he played.
He had the highest number of wickets to his name amongst pace bowlers in test cricket at the end of his career and was the first bowler to take 500 wickets in the history of test cricket. His best figures came in 1994 in the second test against New Zealand where he took 7 wickets while conceding 37 runs. He had an impressive average of 24.45.
Ravichandran Ashwin (India)
Ravichandran Ashwin is an Indian Right Arm Off-break bowler and is the 8th highest wicket taker in test cricket history. He debuted against West Indies in 2011 and is still playing test cricket professionally to this date. During these 11 years, Ashwin has taken a stellar 442 wickets in just the 86 games that he has played for India. He also became the fastest bowler ever to reach 300 test wickets in his 54th Test match. Ashwin’s best figures in test cricket came against New Zealand where he managed to take 7 wickets while conceding 59 runs. He has an average of 24.3.
Dale Steyn (South Africa)
Dale Steyn is 9th on the list when it comes to highest test wickets and is the top wicket taker in tests in the whole of South Africa. The Right Arm Fast bowler’s career lasted for 15 years from 2004 to 2019. In this period of time, he managed to take 439 test wickets in just 93 of the matches that he played.
Although his cricketing journey has been filled with a number of injuries, he is considered to be one of the best fast bowlers of this decade. No other bowler has been able to take five wickets against each test-playing cricket nation in his time. His best figures came against India in 2009 where he got 7 wickets and conceded just 51 runs. He has a sensational average of just 22.95.
NM Lyon (Australia)
Nathan Michael Lyon is an Australian Off-spin bowler who is also the 10th highest wicket taker in the world. After Warne and McGrath, Lyon is the top wicket taker in test history for Australia. Lyon had Kumar Sangakkara caught at slip in Galle with his very first delivery in Test cricket which went on to be part of a five-wicket haul.
Throughout his career so far, Lyon has grabbed 438 wickets in the 110 games that he has played, making him Australia’s most successful Test off-spinner bowler of all time. He has an average of 32.07, and his best figures came against India in 2017 where he tore them apart by taking 8 wickets while conceding 50 runs.
After looking at the list of the top 10 highest wicket takers in test Cricket history, it is safe to conclude that Muttiah Muralitharan is the best bowler with the most test wickets. Shane Warne is the only player that comes close to Muralitharan in terms of wickets, technique, and records. But Muralitharan still has an 18% higher impact than Warne has had in Test Cricket which is a significant difference.
James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ravichandran Ashwin, and NM Lyon are the only active players on the highest wicket takers list, out of which not all of them have the best chance of breaking the 800 wickets record set by Muralitharan.
Muralitharan claims that only Ashwin may have the potential to break the record he has set. But you can never write anyone off because there are always chances for someone new with incredible talent to come in and break all existing records, especially the highest wicket taker.