Top 5 Bowlers to reach 500 Test Wickets in Fewest Matches

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Over the decades, several top bowlers have graced the world of cricket with their presence and on-pitch prowess. However, taking 500 wickets in test cricket, which is also considered by many as the most challenging format, is a more notable landmark that has been reached by only nine bowlers, yet.

India‘s Ravichandran Ashwin became the latest inductee in the elite list of bowlers who have picked up 500 wickets in test cricket. Apart from being the only second Indian bowler to reach the peak, Ashwin did that in only 98 matches. 

Nevertheless, without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five bowlers to reach 500 test wickets in the fewest matches: 

#5 Glenn McGrath (110 matches)

Australian bowlers have always been dominant in the longest format of cricket and one such bowler who has been an epitome of brilliance is Glenn McGrath. Moreover, McGrath is the only non-spinner on this list. The right-arm fast-medium bowler made his debut for the Kangaroos in 1993 under the captaincy of Allan Border. 

In test cricket, McGrath completed 500 wickets in 110 matches and became only the second Australian bowler after Shane Warne to reach the milestone. Overall, before hanging up his boots in 2007, the Aussie garnered a mammoth total of 949 wickets in 376 matches across all formats while in tests, he picked up 563 wickets in only 124 matches. 

He’s also the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the history of test cricket behind Anil Kumble, James Anderson, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.

#4 Shane Warne (108 matches)

Australian legend Shane Warne was the first bowler to reach the 700-wicket landmark

Shane Warne has given numerous unforgettable moments to the game and one such example came when he bowled the ‘ball of the century’ to Mike Gatting on 4 June 1993. However, Warne’s resume in cricket consists of much greater peaks. 

In Test cricket, Warne has 708 wickets in 145 matches and to complete 500 wickets in the longest format, he only took 108 matches. The Australian legend has taken 195 wickets against the Kangaroos’ arch-rivals, England in the Ashes, which is the most taken by any bowler against a single opponent in test matches. 

After Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne holds the record for the second-highest wickets (1001) in the history of international cricket. 

#3 Anil Kumble (105 matches)

The excellence and elite mentality of Anil Kumble have played a major role in changing Indian cricket for a better reason. Kumble made his test debut in 1990 against England and he eventually went on to become one of the greatest bowlers in Indian cricket. During his illustrious career, Kumble picked up a total of 956 wickets in 403 matches across all formats. 

Kumble was also an indomitable force in test cricket, playing 132 test matches, he took 619 wickets in the longest format of the game. Before Ravichandran Ashwin, he was the only Indian bowler to take more than 500 wickets in test cricket. 

Moreover, Kumble took only 105 matches to complete 500 wickets in the longest format. The former Indian bowler is also one of the three bowlers in the history of cricket, who completed a ten-wicket haul in a single innings alongside Jim Laker of England and Ajaz Patel of New Zealand. 

#2 Ravichandran Ashwin (98 matches)

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin recently joined the elite club of bowlers with 500+ wickets in test cricket and he also became the second-fastest to reach the milestone. Playing against England at the Nirajan Shah Stadium, the spinner took two wickets against the Poms to reach the peak. 

Ashwin made his test debut for India in 2011 and since then, he has been a match-winner for the national side, especially in the subcontinent. The right-arm off-spinner has taken a total of 739 wickets in 279 matches, which he has played across different formats. Ashwin also overtook Indian legend Anil Kumble’s record, who completed the peak in 105 matches.

#1 Muttiah Muralitharan (87 matches)

Muttiah Muralidharan was one of the most potent bowlers of his era

Former right-arm off-break bowler and Sri Lankan legend, Muttiah Muralitharan is widely regarded as one of the greatest spinners in the history of cricket. Muralitharan made his debut for Sri Lanka in 1992 and hung his boots after a 19-year illustrious career in 2011. 

During his stellar career, the right-arm spinner faced several allegations of chucking but he never looked down despite the aforementioned difficulties. In his almost two-decade-long career, the Sri Lankan bowler has taken a total of 1347 wickets in 495 matches, which he played across all formats. However, his prowess in test cricket is still unparalleled. 

The Sri Lankan bowler completed 500 test wickets in only 87 matches. In the oldest format of cricket, Muralitharan played 133 matches, in which he picked up 800 wickets, which is also the highest number of wickets taken by any bowler in tests.