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Who Has Taken The Most Wickets in Test Cricket? | List of The Top 26 Highest Wicket Takers In Test Cricket History

Who has taken the most wickets in Test cricket?

Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (792), Jimmy Anderson* (688), Anil Kumble (619), Stuart Broad* (600), Glenn Mcgrath (563), and Courtney Walsh (519) have taken the most wickets in Test cricket.

Today, we go in-depth and discuss the stats and characteristics of the highest wicket-takers in Test cricket. Here is the comprehensive list of the Top 26 cricketers with the most wickets in Test cricket.

Also Read: Who Has the Most Test Centuries in Cricket History?| List of Top 25 Cricketers with Test Hundreds, 155 Greatest Cricketers of All Time (Men’s), List of Top 35 Run Scorers in Test History

Key Takeaways

  • 26 bowlers have taken 350 or more wickets in Test cricket. From this, 17 bowlers have taken 400+ wickets, while only 7 have scaled the 500+ mountain.
  • 18 fast bowlers, six off-spinners, and two leg-spinners make up the list of 26 highest wicket-takers in Test history. 23 of them are right-arm bowlers while three are left-arm bowlers.
  • Australia and India (4) have produced the most bowlers with 350+ Test wickets, while Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, England, and New Zealand (3) are tied for second place.
  • Jimmy Anderson (688), Stuart Broad (589), Nathan Lyon (496), and Ravichandran Ashwin (474) are the only active cricketers on this list.

*still playing

Test Cricket Bowling Records: Top 25 Highest Wicket-Takers in Test Cricket History

Test cricket is one of the oldest and most revered forms of the game.

Through its long and storied history, some truly great bowlers have emerged, with many of them going on to become the greatest wicket-takers in Test cricket history. In this article, we’ll look at a list of the highest wicket-takers in Test cricket history, and what makes them among the best bowlers that ever played the game.

Let’s take a look.

1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) – 800 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1992-2010
  • Test Matches Played: 133
  • Average: 22.72, Strike Rate: 55.04
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 67/22

Muttiah Muralitharan, a Sri Lanka offspinner, is the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. He achieved these feats throughout his career between 1992 and 2010 — his bowling average was a spectacular 22.72. With an unusual action, fear in his eyes, and skill on display, Murali regularly blew the opposition away.

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2. Shane Warne (Australia) – 708 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1992-2007
  • Test Matches Played: 145
  • Average: 25.41, Strike Rate: 57.49
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 37/10

Shane Warne was considered one of the best bowlers of all time. He made leg spin cool and bowled some of the balls of the century.

RIP Legend.

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3. James Anderson (England) – 688* Test wickets

  • Years Played: 2003-
  • Test Matches Played: 182*
  • Average: 26.27, Strike Rate: 56.4
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 32/3

James Anderson is probably the golden standard of swing bowling in Test cricket. He started playing bowling in 2003 and is still going strong. His longevity is one to admire, and his consistency one to emulate. We can just hope this journey continues for a few more Tests.

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4. Anil Kumble (India) – 619 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1990-2008
  • Test Matches Played: 132
  • Average: 29.65, Strike Rate: 65.99
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 35/8

Anil Kumble was known for his accurate leg-spin skills. Fortitude and desire were the main elements in Kumble’s game. ‘Jumbo’ as he was referred to, was a mainstay for Indian cricket for more than a decade. He will always be remembered for the 10-fer vs Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

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5. Stuart Broad (England) – 600* Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 2007-
  • Test Matches Played: 166*
  • Average: 27.60, Strike Rate: 55.6
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 20/3

Since starting his Test match career in 2007, England’s Stuart Broad has been regarded as a favorite by many. With Jimmy Anderson, Broad formed a formidable partnership for years to come. When he is in form, Broad’s spells are a joy to witness.

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6. Glenn McGrath (Australia) – 563 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1993-2007
  • Test Matches Played: 124
  • Average: 21.64, Strike Rate: 51.95
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 29/3

Australian quick bowler Glenn McGrath has become a cult figure with his length and his line. An iconic cricketer, he created a destructive combination with Shane Warne during Australia’s golden generation.

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7. Courtney Walsh (West Indies) – 519 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1984-2001
  • Test Matches Played: 132
  • Average: 24.44, Strike Rate: 57.84
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 22/3

Courtney Walsh, a West Indian Indian fast bowler, is well known for his longevity, speed, and precision. His fast-bowling relationship with Curtly Ambrose was an aggressive and intimidating experience.

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8. Nathan Lyon (Australia) – 496* Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 2011-
  • Test Matches Played: 122*
  • Average: 31.00, Strike Rate: 63035
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 23/4

In 2011 Nathan Lyon made his first appearance as Australia’s leading spin bowler. Lyon is known for his enduring tenacity and has been one of the iconic off-spinners of his generation.

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9. Ravichandran Ashwin (India) – 474* Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 2011-
  • Test Matches Played: 92*
  • Average: 23.93, Strike Rate: 51.84
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 32/7

Ravichandran Ashwin is the most successful spin-bowling all-rounder India has ever produced. His range of spinning deliveries has consistently earned him wickets and is one of the great thinkers of the game. In addition to his impressive bowling stats, Ashwin also boasts 5 Test centuries.

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10. Dale Steyn (South Africa) – 439 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 2004–2019
  • Test Matches Played: 93
  • Average: 22.95, Strike Rate: 42.38
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 26/5

Dale Steyn was one of the most feared fast bowlers in Test cricket for over a decade, and his stats prove it. With an impressive strike rate of 42.38, Steyn consistently took wickets throughout his career to become South Africa’s most successful bowler since Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. His ability to swing the ball both ways made him as dangerous as any bowler in the world.

Also Read: Dale Steyn, The Embodiment of Simplicity and Intensity, Retires—The Greatest Fast Bowler of Them All

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11. Kapil Dev (India) – 434 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1978–1994
  • Test Matches Played: 131
  • Average: 29.64, Strike Rate: 63.91
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 23/2

Kapil Dev is considered by many to be India’s greatest-ever cricketer. Although not a traditionally fast bowler like Dale Steyn or Malcolm Marshall, Kapil had a great ability to extract bounce from any pitch and was capable of bowling long spells of accuracy with great success – something that often goes unrecognized.

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12. Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka) – 433 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1999–2018
  • Test Matches Played: 93
  • Average: 28.07, Strike Rate: 60.03
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 34/9

Rangana Herath is one of the most successful spin bowlers to ever play Test cricket and was a mainstay in the Sri Lankan team since his debut in 1999. His ability to extract turn from even the driest of pitches made him one of the toughest bowlers to face, as did his commitment to bowling accurate line and length for long periods of time. In addition, Herath was also capable of picking up wickets in quick succession, making him a dangerous bowler in the fourth innings.

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13. Sir Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) – 431 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1973–1990
  • Test Matches Played: 86
  • Average: 22.29, Strike Rate: 50.85
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 36/9

Sir Richard Hadlee is one of the greatest all-rounders to grace the cricket field and was a regular in the New Zealand Test team from 1973 until 1990. A genuine fast bowler with great swing and accuracy, Sir Richard picked up 431 wickets over his career at an outstanding average of 22 – making him one of the most successful bowlers in Test cricket history.

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14. Shaun Pollock (South Africa) – 421 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1995–2008
  • Test Matches Played: 108
  • Average: 23.11, Strike Rate: 57.84
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 16/1

In spite of his relative lack of pace, Pollock was able to compensate with impeccable accuracy and line & length, and the result was 421 Test wickets at an impressive average of 23. His ability to swing the ball both ways, combined with his knack for picking up wickets in clusters, saw him play a crucial role in South Africa’s rise as a cricketing superpower.

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15. Harbhajan Singh (India) – 417 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1998–2015
  • Test Matches Played: 103
  • Average: 32.46, Strike Rate: 68.53
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 25/5

Harbhajan Singh is one of India’s most famous spinners and was central to India’s famous series win over Australia on home soil in 2001. With 417 Test wickets under his belt and an economy rate of just under three runs per over, Harbhajan consistently proved himself to be a valuable asset for the Indian team. His ability to take wickets in clusters, combined with his sharp off-breaks and top spinners, made him one of the most successful spinners in Indian Test cricket history.

Also Read: Border-Gavaskar Trophy (BGT): The Definitive Guide (Updated 2023), Complete History, Most Runs, Most Wickets, and BGT 2023 Schedule

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16. Wasim Akram (Pakistan) – 414 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1985–2002
  • Test Matches Played: 104
  • Average: 23.62, Strike Rate: 54.65
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 25/5

Wasim Akram is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers ever to have graced a cricket field and it is no surprise that he is also amongst the highest wicket-takers in Test cricket history with 414 scalps throughout his illustrious career. His ability to swing the ball both ways, combined with his nagging accuracy and excellent control made him a nightmare for batsmen all over the world. He is certainly a legend of the game.

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17. Curtly Ambrose (West Indies) – 405 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1988–2000
  • Test Matches Played: 98
  • Average: 20.99, Strike Rate: 54.57
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 22/3

Curtly Ambrose had an exceptional ability to extract bounce from any surface. One of the most dangerous bowlers of his time, he produced some of the most devastating spells of all time. Also a decent musician.

Also Read: 24 Cricketers with Musical Talent Who Will Rock You Ft. Don Bradman, Sreesanth, and AB De Villiers

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18. Makhaya Ntini (South Africa) – 390 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1998–2009
  • Test Matches Played: 101
  • Average: 28.82, Strike Rate: 53.42
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 18/4

Makhaya Ntini was one of South Africa’s most successful bowlers in Test cricket and a mainstay in the Proteas team since his debut in 1998. With Pollock, Kallis, Donald, and later Steyn, Morkel, Rabada, Ngidi, & Nortje, his influence on South Africa’s pace bowling cannot be understated.

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19. Ian Botham (England) – 383 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1977–1992
  • Test Matches Played: 102
  • Average: 28.40, Strike Rate: 56.95
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 27/4

Sir Ian Botham is undoubtedly one of the greatest all-rounders ever to play cricket. Along with Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, & Sir Richard Hadlee, these four formed the golden generation of all-rounders.

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20. Malcolm Marshall (West Indies) – 376 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1978–1991
  • Test Matches Played: 81
  • Average: 20.94, Strike Rate: 46.76
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 22/4

Malcolm Marshall boasts an envious bowling strike rate of 46.76 and was one of the core bowlers in THAT West Indies side.

Also Read: Top 5 Greatest Cricket Teams Ever To Be Assembled

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21. Waqar Younis (Pakistan) – 373 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 198902003
  • Test Matches Played: 87
  • Average: 23.56, Strike Rate: 43.49
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 22/5

Apart from Malcolm Marshall & Dale Steyn, Waqar Younis is the other fast bowler with a bowling strike rate in the low forties. With the ability to break stumps at will and bowl deadly yorkers, he formed the perfect foil with Wasim Akram.

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22. Tim Southee (New Zealand) – 370 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 2008–
  • Test Matches Played: 94*
  • Average: 28.98, Strike Rate: 58.40
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 15/1

Tim Southee is one of New Zealand’s most successful bowlers in Test cricket and has been a mainstay in the Black Caps team since his debut in 2008. He is best known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, combined with his accurate line & length and good control. After 2014, it was the partnership of Southee-Boult that would plant the seeds for the 2021 World Test Championship victory.

Also Read: World Test Championship Final Review 2021, Prediction Results, WTC XI, and Stats: It Is New Zealand’s Time

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23. Imran Khan (Pakistan) – 362 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1971–1992
  • Test Matches Played: 88
  • Average: 22.81, Strike Rate: 53.75
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 23/6

Imran Khan is one of the greatest icons of Pakistan cricket. He holds the distinction of leading a nation to a World Cup victory…as well as leading a nation as a Prime Minister.

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24. Daniel Vettori (New Zealand) – 362 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1997–2014
  • Test Matches Played: 113
  • Average: 34.36, Strike Rate: 79.59
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 20/3

Daniel Vettori was New Zealand’s sole spin sensation in a land of fast bowlers, swing kings, and dibbly-dobbler specialists. Although his strike rate is a bit on the high side, it was the economy of 2.59 that helped the Kiwis to maintain control.

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25. Dennis Lillee (Australia) – 355 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1971-1984
  • Test Matches Played: 70
  • Average: 23.92, Strike Rate: 52.01
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 23/7

Perhaps the original star of the art of fast bowling in modern-day Test cricket, Lillee would become an inspiration for future generations.

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26. Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka) – 355 Test Wickets

  • Years Played: 1994–2009
  • Test Matches Played: 111
  • Average: 29.58, Strike Rate: 66.02
  • 5-fer/10-fer: 12/2

The final bowler on the 350+ Test wicket list is none other than Chaminda Vaas. Central to Sri Lanka’s rise into the upper echelons of Test cricket, Vaas became their most successful fast bowler.

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Final Thoughts

The list of the highest wicket-takers in Test cricket history is a testament to the skill, determination, and excellence that each of these great players has shown throughout their careers.

Each bowler has left an indelible mark on the game, making them all true legends of the sport.

These bowlers have set a high standard for future generations to strive for and will undoubtedly be remembered as some of the greatest Test cricketers ever.

Who is your all-time favorite bowler in Test cricket?

Frequently Asked Questions

Who has taken the most wickets in Test cricket?

Muttiah Muralitharan has taken the most wickets in Test cricket (800).

Can Jimmy Anderson take 700 Test wickets?

Yes, Jimmy Anderson is currently on 685 wickets and will play the 5-match Ashes series against England at home. He may not play all the matches but should still get to the coveted 700-wicket mark.

Who has 4000 runs and 400 wickets in Test matches?

Kapil Dev is the only Indian player with 4000 Test runs and 400 Test wickets in Test history.

How many cricketers have taken 300 wickets or more in Test cricket?

37 bowlers have taken 300 or more wickets in Test cricket. From this, 26 have gone on to take 350 wickets, 17 have taken 400 wickets, and only 7 bowlers have taken 500+ Test wickets.

Who is the leading wicket-taker in Test for England?

Jimmy Anderson is the leader wicket-taker for England in Test cricket with 685 wickets to his name.

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, LLC 2023. Originally published on 06/10/2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).