Top 7 Fastest to 50 Wickets in Test Cricket
A good start to a bowler’s Test career can set him on the way to greatness. It’s hard to bridge the gap between first-class and Test cricket and start taking wickets right away in international matches. However, the bowlers on this list have done just that. In this article, we are going to take a look at the bowlers who were the fastest to take 50 wickets in Tests.
Our list is dominated by Australia which boasts four of the top seven bowlers fastest to 50 Test wickets. This fact alone can explain why Australia is considered the most successful cricketing nation. Read on to learn more about these great bowlers.
1. Charles Turner (Australia) – 6 Tests
Charlie Turner was a right-arm medium-fast bowler who played Test cricket from 1887 to 1895. In total, he featured in 17 Tests in which he took 101 wickets at a 16.53 average and a strike rate of 51.2 with 11 five-fors and 2 10-wicket match hauls. Turner’s best figures in a Test innings were 7/43.
Turner starred in 155 first-class matches, grabbing 993 wickets at a 14.25 average and a strike rate of 42.1 with 102 five-fors and 35 10-wicket match hauls. Turner’s best first-class figures were 9/15.
Turner was nicknamed “Terror” for his lethal fast bowling. He had a lengthy rhythmic run-up and delivered with a beautiful action. Turner could move the ball both ways at a good pace and could get a nice bounce off the pitch. He was the only bowler to snare 100 wickets in an Australian first-class season and the record has remained unbeaten since. Turner formed a potent partnership with JJ Ferris and they both won many a match for Australia.
2. Tom Richardson (England) – 7 Tests
Tom Richardson was a right-arm fast bowler who played 14 Tests between 1893 and 1898. He bagged a total of 88 wickets at a 25.22 average and a strike rate of 51.1 with 11 five-fors and 4 10-wicket match hauls. Richardson’s best figures in a Test innings were 8/94.
He starred in 358 first-class games during his career, claiming 2,104 wickets at an 18.43 average and a strike rate of 37.5 with 200 five-fors and 72 10-wicket match hauls. Richardson’s best figures in a first-class innings were 10/45.
Richardson is placed high by cricket pundits on the list of great fast bowlers of his era. He boasted consistent excellence and bagged numerous wickets each season. However, Richardson retired early after the increase of his popularity diminished in bulk his effectiveness. In his prime, he was a splendid sight, bowling with a strong physique and inexhaustible energy.
Richardson’s supple and lithe figure could generate a good pace. He was deadly on dry surfaces that were soft underneath. Richardson had extraordinary stamina and used to walk miles to and from The Oval each day from his home carrying a heavy kitbag.
3. Vernon Philander (South Africa) – 7 Tests
Vernon Philander is third on our list with just 7 Tests needed to snare 50 wickets thanks to his stupendous success in the first few months after his Test debut. As of October 2020, this right-arm fast-medium bowler has played 64 Tests, bagging 224 wickets at a 22.32 average and a strike rate of 50.8 with 13 five-fors and 2 10-wicket match hauls. Philander’s best figures in a Test innings are 6/21.
Philander has also scored 1,779 runs in Tests at an average of 24.04 to stake his claim as a valuable all-rounder for South Africa. His success with the ball can be explained by his ability to bowl sharply and move the ball both ways. He has also represented South Africa in ODIs and T20Is.
4. Fred Spofforth (Australia) – 8 Tests
Fred Spofforth is fourth on our list with just eight Tests needed to snare 50 scalps. He was a right-arm fast-medium bowler who took part in 18 Tests from 1877 to 1887. Spofforth bagged 94 Test wickets at an 18.41 average and a strike rate of 44.5 with 7 five-fors and 4 10-wicket match hauls. Spofforth’s best figures in a Test innings were 7/44.
Spofforth was nicknamed “The Demon” for his deadly fast bowling. He grabbed wickets by the bucketful with his accuracy and lionhearted effort.
Spofforth was the first bowler to register a hat trick in Tests. He retired at his peak, in 1887, to attend to his business interests.
5. Alf Valentine (West Indies) – 8 Tests
Caribbean great Alf Valentine is the only spinner on our list. He bowled slow left-arm orthodox spin and featured in 36 Tests from 1950 to 1962, bagging 139 wickets at a 30.32 average and a strike rate of 93.1 with 8 five-fors and 2 10-wicket match hauls. Valentine’s best figures in a Test innings were 8/104.
Valentine along with fellow spinner Sonny Ramadhin and the three Ws – Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, and Frank Worrell, formed the backbone of the first great team from the West Indies which stunned England 3-1 in 1950. The bespectacled Valentine gave a savage spin to the ball and could even turn deliveries on the glass, it was said. He was the first Caribbean bowler to claim 100 wickets in Tests.
6. Richard Hogg (Australia) – 8 Tests
Rodney Hogg was a menacingly fast and aggressive right-arm pace bowler who starred in 38 Tests between 1978 and 1984. He snared 123 scalps at a 28.47 average and a strike rate of 62.0 with 6 five-fors and 2 10-wicket match hauls. Hogg’s best figures in a Test innings were 6/74.
Some of Hogg’s best moments came in the 1978-79 series against England in which he grabbed 41 wickets and was regularly beating the great Geoff Boycott for a sheer pace. His Test career was affected by a rebel South African tour and an injury. After retirement, he set up a greengrocery business.
7. Terry Alderman (Australia) – 8 Tests
Terry Alderman rounds out our list, also with 8 Tests needed to reach 50 wickets. He was a right-arm fast-medium bowler who played 41 Tests between 1981 and 1991. In total, he claimed 170 wickets at a 27.15 average and a strike rate of 59.8 with 14 five-fors and 1 10-wicket match haul. Alderman’s best figures in a Test innings were 6/47.
Alderman shone on the 1981 and 1989 England tours, snaring over 40 wickets in each series. He delivered well-directed off cutters and away swingers at a decent fast-medium pace. Graham Gooch was his bunny in the 1989 series and the established batsman even opted out of the Test team because of his failures against Alderman. The star fast bowler spent some time with Gloucestershire and Kent in English county cricket.
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