Most Overs Bowled by a Bowler in Test Cricket
In this article, we are going to talk about bowlers who worked hard in Test cricket to bowl the most number of overs. The list consists of various players from the 1970s star Kapil Dev to recent players like James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The following list has been arranged in descending order of overs bowled in Test cricket.
- Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)
- Anil Kumble (IND)
- Shane Warne (AUS)
- James Anderson (ENG)
- Courtney Walsh (WI)
- Glenn McGrath (AUS)
- Stuart Broad (ENG)
- Daniel Vettori (NZ)
- Harbhajan Singh (IND)
- Kapil Dev (IND)
The list begins with legendary spinner Muralitharan, who has bowled more than 7000 overs in Test cricket and has taken 800 wickets, and ends with Kapil Dev. It contains three Indian bowlers, 2 bowlers each from England and Australia and one each from Sri Lanka, the West Indies and New Zealand. Let’s take a look at each of the legends in detail.
- 7340 Overs – Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)
- 6809 Overs – Anil Kumble (IND)
- 6785 Overs – Shane Warne (AUS)
- 5625 Overs – JM Anderson (ENG)
- 5004 Overs – Courtney Walsh (WI)
- 4875 Overs – Glenn McGrath (AUS)
- 4834 Overs – Stuart Broad (ENG)
- 4802 Overs – DL Vettori (NZ)
- 4763 Overs – Harbhajan Singh (IND)
- 4623 Overs – Kapil Dev (IND)
7340 Overs – Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)
The legendary off-spin bowler and the all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan, is at the top of the list of the most overs bowled in Test cricket. Muralitharan has bowled 44039 deliveries (about 7340 overs) in Test Cricket in a career that spanned about 18 years, from 1992 to 2010. In his final match, he needed 8 wickets to get to 800 and he took exactly 8 wickets against India. Overall, Murali took 800 wickets at an average of 22.72 and a strike rate of 55 with 67 five-wicket hauls and 22 ten-wicket hauls.
Muralitharan has bowled 56% overs at home and 44% overs in away matches. He has bowled most overs against India – 1170 overs – followed by England with 1102.1 overs. Except against Bangladesh, Muralitharan has bowled more than 600 overs against every other Test-playing nation. With a total of 230 bowling innings, Muralitharan has bowled 32 overs per innings in Test cricket, highest for a bowler in Tests.
Away from home, Murali has bowled most overs (574.5 overs) in India followed by 479 overs in Pakistan. He bowled 781.2 overs in 2001 in 12 Tests, the most for him a single calendar year. In 5 calendar years in his career, Murali has bowled more than 500 overs in Test cricket.
6809 Overs – Anil Kumble (IND)
Indian legend, Anil Kumble, the right-hand leg-break spinner, has bowled the second-most overs in Test cricket in a career that spanned for 18 years, from 1990 to 2008. Anil Kumble has bowled 40850 balls (about 6809 overs) in 236 innings in 132 Tests, taking 619 wickets in the process at an average of 29.65 with 35 five-wicket hauls and 8 ten-wicket hauls in a match. Overall, Kumble has bowled 29 overs per innings in Test cricket.
Kumble bowled more than 1000 overs against 3 oppositions – South Africa (1138.2 overs), South Australia (1086 overs) and England (1072.2 overs). Except against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Anil Kumble has bowled more than 600 overs against every other country he played Tests against. Kumble has almost half the balls at home and away venues. Away from home, he has bowled most overs in South Africa (635.5 overs) followed by 534 overs in Australia.
He has bowled 43% overs in drawn matches. In 2006, Anil Kumble bowled the most overs (633 overs) in a year taking 57 wickets.
6785 Overs – Shane Warne (AUS)
Shane Warne, a charismatic Australian leg spinner who changed the perception of leg spinners, is third on the list of the most overs bowled in Test cricket. In 273 innings in 145 matches, Shane Warne bowled 40705 deliveries (about 6785 overs). His career spanned over 15 years in which he took 708 wickets at an average of 25.41 with 37 five-wicket hauls and 10 ten-wicket hauls.
Shane Warne has bowled an almost equal number of deliveries in home and away conditions. Understandably, because of the Ashes series, he has bowled most overs (1792.5) against England followed by South Africa with 1321.2 overs. He has bowled more than 650 overs against India, Pakistan and the West Indies and has bowled more than 950 overs against the neighbours, New Zealand. Away from home, Warne has bowled most overs (1125.1 overs) in England followed by 613.3 overs in South Africa.
In 1993, he bowled the most – 842.2 overs in 16 Tests – followed by 722.4 overs 12 years later, in 2005. During 7 different years, Shane Warne has bowled more than 500 overs in Test cricket.
5625 Overs – JM Anderson (ENG)
James Anderson, the first pacer to 600 wickets in Test cricket, has bowled the fourth-highest number of overs in Test cricket. Anderson has been playing Test cricket for 17 years since 2003. He has bowled 33745 deliveries (5625 Overs) in 291 innings in 156 matches and has taken 600 wickets with an average of 26.79 with 29 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket hauls in a match. Being a pacer, he has bowled 19 overs an innings in Test cricket so far.
Anderson has bowled more than 57% overs at home and the remaining 43% in away or neutral conditions. He has bowled the most, 1175.1 overs, against Australia followed by 1006.1 overs against India and 993.2 overs against South Africa. In the away conditions, he has bowled the most overs in Australia (720.3 Overs) followed by 385.1 overs in South Africa. In 2012, James Anderson bowled 566.2 overs in 14 Tests, taking 48 wickets in the process. Anderson has bowled 41% overs in Tests that England won.
5004 Overs – Courtney Walsh (WI)
West Indian legend Courtney Walsh is fifth on the list of the most overs bowled in Test cricket. The right-handed pacer has bowled 30019 deliveries (about 5004 overs) in 242 innings in 132 Tests, taking 519 wickets with an average of 24.44 with 22 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket hauls in a match. He played for the West Indies for 17 years, from 1984 to 2001.
Walsh played most of his matches against England and Australia, bowling about 57% overs against these two teams: 1426.4 overs against Australia and 1469.4 overs against England. The next highest is 520.4 overs against India. He bowled more overs away from home than at home with 55% overs away from home and 45% overs at home. Away from home, Walsh has bowled 890.3 overs in Australia followed by 854.4 overs in England. He has bowled more than 200 overs in India, Pakistan and New Zealand.
Around the end of his career in 2000, Walsh bowled the most overs in a year with 583.3 overs. The year 1995 was the only other year when Walsh bowled more than 500 overs in a year. Walsh has bowled an almost equal number of overs in won and lost Tests, about 1800 overs.
4875 Overs – Glenn McGrath (AUS)
Placed sixth is another legendary Aussie pacer, Glenn McGrath. He bowled 29248 deliveries (4875 overs) in 243 innings in 123 matches, taking 563 wickets in the process with an average of 21.64 – the best among the players on this list – with 29 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket hauls in a match. McGrath’s career spanned about 14 years, from 1993 to 2007.
McGrath bowled 54% overs at home and the remaining 46% in away or neutral conditions. He bowled 1213.2 overs against England followed by 912.3 overs against the West Indies. He has also bowled more than 600 wickets against Pakistan and South Africa. Away from home, he has bowled 578.1 overs in England followed by 398.5 overs in the West Indies. He has bowled more than 300 overs in India and South Africa.
In 2001, McGrath bowled the maximum number of overs, 584.4 overs, in a single calendar year followed by 560.4 in the year 1999. Overall, McGrath bowled 500 or more overs in 4 years of the 14-year-long career.
4834 Overs – Stuart Broad (ENG)
Stuart Broad is a right-arm fast bowler from England who has been playing Test cricket since 2007. He is 7th on the list of players with the highest numbers of overs bowled in Test cricket. Broad has bowled 29004 deliveries (about 4834 overs) in 263 innings in 143 Test matches, taking 514 wickets with an average of 27.65 with 18 five-wicket hauls – lowest on this list – and 3 ten-wicket hauls in a match.
Broad bowled close to 58% overs at home, in England. Away from home, he has bowled most overs in Australia, 426.4 overs, followed by 412.2 overs in South Africa. He has bowled most overs against Australia (1085.2 overs) followed by 773.3 against South Africa. He has also bowled more than 600 overs against India, Pakistan and the West Indies. In 2013, Broad bowled the most overs (478.1) in a calendar year followed by 463.4 in the year 2016. Broad has bowled more than 400 overs in a year five times in his career. He has bowled 40% overs in wins for England. Overall, Stuart Broad bowled 18 overs per innings in Test matches.
4802 Overs – DL Vettori (NZ)
Daniel Vettori, a left-arm orthodox spinner, is 8th on the list of players with the most overs in Test cricket. In his 14-year-long career that spanned from 1997 to 2014, Vettori bowled 28814 deliveries (about 4802 overs), taking 362 wickets at an average of 34.36 – worst among the players on this list – with 20 five-wicket hauls and 3 ten-wicket hauls. Overall, he bowled about 26 overs per innings in Tests.
Vettori bowled about 53% overs away from home or in neutral conditions. Playing away, he has bowled most overs in India, 531.0 overs, followed by 517.2 overs in Australia. He has bowled most overs against Australia, 831.4 overs, followed by 710.4 overs against India. In 2008, Vettori bowled 590.3 overs – the most for him in a calendar year – followed by 587.4 overs back in the year 1999. He has bowled most overs, about 40% overs, in losses for New Zealand.
4763 Overs – Harbhajan Singh (IND)
Harbhajan Singh, an Indian off-spinner who bowled in Tests for India from 1998 to 2015, is 9th on the list of the highest numbers of overs bowled in Test cricket. In those 17 years, he bowled 28580 deliveries (about 4763 overs), taking 417 wickets at an average 32.46 – second-lowest on this list – with 25 five-wicket hauls and 5 ten-wicket hauls. On average, he bowled 25 overs per innings in Test cricket.
Harbhajan bowled close to 60% overs on Indian soil. In the away conditions, he has bowled mostly in Sri Lanka with 402.5 overs followed by 336.5 overs in the West Indies. When it comes to oppositions, Harbhajan bowled most overs – 967.4 overs – against Australia followed by 664.2 overs against Sri Lanka. He has bowled more than 500 overs against 6 Test-playing nations. In 2008, he bowled 705 overs – the most for him in a calendar year – in 13 Tests followed by 612 overs in the year 2010. About 41% of his overs have come in wins for India.
4623 Overs – Kapil Dev (IND)
The last but not the least is Indian pacer Kapil Dev who played for India from 1978 to 1994. In that period of 16 years, he bowled 27740 deliveries (about 4623 overs), taking 434 wickets at 29.64 with 23 five-wicket hauls and 2 ten-wicket hauls. On average, he bowled 20 overs per innings in Tests.
Kapil bowled about 56% overs in away conditions, mainly in England with 563.1 overs followed by 525.5 overs in Pakistan and 522.5 overs in Australia. He has bowled most overs against Pakistan, 990.4 overs, followed by 791 overs against Australia and 773.1 overs against the West Indies. He bowled most overs, 592.1 overs, in 1979 followed by 578.1 overs in 1983. Kapil bowled about 57% overs in drawn matches.
|1||M Muralitharan||Sri Lanka||133||7,339.5||18,180||1,792||800||9/51||67||22||22.73|
|3||S K Warne||Australia||145||6,784.1||17,995||1,762||708||8/71||37||10||25.42|
|4||J M Anderson||England||156||5,624.1||16,078||1,421||600||7/42||29||3||26.80|
|5||C A Walsh||West Indies||132||5,003.1||12,684||1,144||519||7/37||22||3||24.44|
|6||G D McGrath||Australia||124||4,874.4||12,186||1,470||563||8/24||29||3||21.64|
|7||S C J Broad||England||143||4,834||14,216||1,144||514||8/15||18||3||27.66|
|8||D L Vettori||New Zealand||113||4,802.2||12,441||1,197||362||7/87||20||3||34.37|
|11||H M R K B Herath||Sri Lanka||93||4,332.1||12,157||816||433||9/127||34||9||28.08|
|12||L R Gibbs||West Indies||79||4,205.7||8,989||1,313||309||8/38||18||2||29.09|
|13||N M Lyon||Australia||96||4,094.4||12,320||768||390||8/50||18||3||31.59|
|14||S M Pollock||South Africa||108||4,058.5||9,733||1,211||421||7/87||16||1||23.12|
|15||W P U J C Vaas||Sri Lanka||111||3,906.2||10,501||895||355||7/71||12||2||29.58|
|17||C E L Ambrose||West Indies||98||3,683.5||8,502||1,001||405||8/45||22||3||20.99|
|18||I T Botham||England||102||3,549.3||10,878||788||383||8/34||27||4||28.40|
|19||M Ntini||South Africa||101||3,472.2||11,242||759||390||7/37||18||4||28.83|
|20||D L Underwood||England||86||3,463||7,674||1,239||297||8/51||17||6||25.84|
|21||R J Hadlee||New Zealand||86||3,460.4||9,611||809||431||9/52||36||9||22.30|
|22||B S Bedi||India||67||3,441||7,637||1,096||266||7/98||14||1||28.71|
|23||G S A Sobers||West Indies||93||3,432.3||7,999||974||235||6/73||6||0||34.04|
|24||J H Kallis||South Africa||166||3,372||9,535||848||292||6/54||5||0||32.65|
|28||D W Steyn||South Africa||93||3,101.2||10,077||660||439||7/51||26||5||22.95|
|31||M D Marshall||West Indies||81||2,930.4||7,876||613||376||7/22||22||4||20.95|
|32||D K Lillee||Australia||70||2,834.1||8,493||652||355||7/83||23||7||23.92|
|34||C J McDermott||Australia||71||2,764.2||8,332||583||291||8/97||14||2||28.63|
|36||M Morkel||South Africa||86||2,749.4||8,550||605||309||6/23||8||0||27.67|
|37||T G Southee||New Zealand||73||2,732.1||8,237||618||284||7/64||10||1||29.00|
|40||R G D Willis||England||90||2,699.1||8,190||554||325||8/43||16||0||25.20|
|41||M G Johnson||Australia||73||2,666.5||8,891||514||313||8/61||12||3||28.41|
|42||G D McKenzie||Australia||60||2,629.5||7,328||547||246||8/71||16||3||29.79|
|43||R J Shastri||India||80||2,625.1||6,186||657||151||5/75||2||0||40.97|
|44||A A Donald||South Africa||72||2,586.3||7,344||661||330||8/71||20||3||22.25|
|45||G P Swann||England||60||2,558.1||7,642||493||255||6/65||17||3||29.97|
|46||B S Chandrasekhar||India||58||2,549.1||7,199||584||242||8/79||16||2||29.75|
|48||J E Emburey||England||64||2,517.1||5,646||741||147||7/78||6||0||38.41|
|49||J B Statham||England||70||2,495.2||6,261||595||252||7/39||9||1||24.85|
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