Fastest to 600 Wickets in Test Cricket
Six hundred Test wickets is a great achievement and only four bowlers have reached this goal so far. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at their accomplishments and overall Test and ODI records to give you a glimpse of their greatness.
Our list includes three spinners and one fast bowler, England’s James Anderson. He is also the only active player on the list. Let’s check out the inspiring Test and ODI achievements of these all-time great bowlers.
1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 101 Tests
Muttiah Muralitharan’s Test career spanned from 1992 to 2010 and he played 133 Tests, bagging 800 wickets at a 22.72 average and a 55.0 strike rate with 67 five-fors and 22 10-wicket hauls. Muralitharan’s best figures in a Test innings were 9/51.
He also featured in 350 ODIs, snaring 534 scalps at a 23.08 average, an economy rate of 3.93 and a 35.2 strike rate with 10 five-fors. His best ODI figures were 7/30.
Like Douglas Jardine infamous for Bodyline, Muralitharan has also been a controversial cricketer. His fans and supporters think he is one of the best spin bowlers ever, while his critics strongly disagree. The fact remains that his prodigious ball-turning ability and stamina to bowl marathon spells helped him grab the most number of wickets by any bowler in the history of Test cricket.
Muralitharan came into the limelight during the 1992-93 Australian tour when he outfoxed even such accomplished batsman as Allan Border with his guiles. His action was debatable because of a deformed bowling elbow. Strong and supple shoulders and wrists enabled him to turn his deliveries prodigiously. He also was master of the doosra and thus became an almost unplayable bowler on turning surfaces.
Muralitharan tried his best to convince his doubters that his bowling action was genuine. He bowled with a cast on television and delivered his full repertoire to convince his critics. Muralitharan helped Sri Lanka win the ODI World Cup in 1996 and reach the final of the 2007 edition. He claimed over 100 Test wickets against top nations like South Africa, England and India.
2. Anil Kumble (India) – 124 Tests
India’s demon leg-spinner Anil Kumble is second on our list, with 124 Tests needed to reach 600 Test wickets. His Test career spanned from 1990 to 2008 and he starred in a total of 132 Tests, bagging 619 wickets at a 29.65 average and a 65.9 strike rate with 35 five-fors and 8 10-wicket game hauls. Kumble’s best figures in a Test innings were 10/74.
Kumble also featured in 271 ODIs, snaring 337 scalps at an average of 30.89, an economy rate of 4.30 and a 43.0 strike rate with 2 five-fors. His best ODI figures were 6/12.
Nicknamed ‘Jumbo’, Kumble won more matches for India than any other bowler. He bowled at a fastish pace, zipping and bouncing his deliveries menacingly to grab his wickets. On wearing surfaces, Kumble was more than a handful. He had a great fighting spirit which he showed in 2002 in Antigua where he delivered a probing spell with a bandaged fractured jaw.
Kumble was a constant learner and he won away matches for India in Kingston, Multan, Adelaide and Headingley with guileful googlies, sidespin and flight variations. During the 1999 Delhi Test against Pakistan, he claimed all ten of their wickets in the second innings. He reached 600 Test wickets in January 2008.
In 2007, Kumble was appointed Test captain of India and he led India to a home series victory against Pakistan, their first in 27 years. He also skippered India in the controversial Australian series in 2007-08 and bagged 20 wickets in 4 Tests, the highest for India. His tally of 619 Test wickets places him behind Muralitharan and Warne on the all-time list.
3. Shane Warne (Australia) – 126 Tests
Shane Warne was the third-fastest to 600 Test wickets as it took him 126 matches. He played a total of 145 Tests from 1992 to 2007, claiming 708 scalps at a 25.41 average and a strike rate of 57.4 with 37 five-fors and 10 10-wicket game hauls. Warne’s best figures in a Test innings were 8/71.
Warne also starred in 194 ODIs, taking 293 wickets at an average of 25.73, a 4.25 economy rate and a strike rate of 36.3 with 1 five-for. His best ODI figures were 5/33.
Warne started his career as a chubby nervous bowler but progressed well to develop a variety of cunning deliveries which befooled the best batters. In 2000, he was named one of the five greatest players of the 20th century and continued to be an effective bowler all until 2007.
Warne was the first bowler to take 700 wickets in Tests and many books have been written about him. He scored 3,154 Test runs with 12 fifties but not a single hundred. Warne delivered the ball of the century to Mike Gatting of England in 1993, which pitched outside leg and turned remarkably to clip the off-stump. His success in the forgotten art of leg-spin bowling inspired many bowlers to try themselves in this difficult genre.
4. James Anderson (England) – 156 Tests
Fast bowler James Anderson rounds out our list with 156 Tests needed to attain 600 Test scalps. He is still active in the cricketing arena and played his last Test against Pakistan in Southampton in August 2020. Anderson made his Test debut in 2003 and has so far featured in 156 matches, grabbing 600 wickets at a 26.79 average and a 56.2 strike rate with 29 five-fors and 3 10-wicket game hauls. Anderson’s best figures in a Test innings are 7/42.
Anderson has also starred in 194 ODIs, snaring 269 scalps at an average of 29.22, an economy rate of 4.92 and a 35.6 strike rate with 2 five-fors. His best ODI figures are 5/23.
Anderson is a prolific and skillful fast bowler who overtook Glenn McGrath in 2018 to claim the most number of Test wickets by a pacer. He has helped England to three Ashes series victories. Anderson is shy off the field but turns on all cylinders during games and becomes a verbally aggressive character, just right for a fast bowler. Though it might not endear his critics, such demeanour has helped him attain immense success in international cricket.
Player Span Mat Born Age JC Watkins (SA) 1949-1957 15 10 Apr 1923 98y 69d RG Draper (SA) 1950-1950 2 24 Dec 1926 94y 176d KA Archer (AUS) 1950-1951 5 17 Jan 1928 93y 152d RN Harvey (AUS) 1948-1963 79 8 Oct 1928 92y 253d DK Gaekwad (INDIA) 1952-1961 11 27 Oct 1928 92y 234d NI Thomson (ENG) 1964-1965 5 23 […]
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