“Test matches are won by bowlers” is a popular phrase that has been proven to be true on most occasions. The biggest criticism in today’s day and age is cricket becoming a more batting-friendly sport. However, in Test cricket, the bowlers are considered to be the biggest asset. They are vital in all formats, but more so in the longer format, where taking 20 wickets is paramount. The likes of Shane Warne, Muthiah Muralidarana, Anil Kumble, and James Anderson, will always rank at the top of the list of great bowlers, who has graced Test cricket. On that note, we take a look at the highest wicket-taker in the format.
Who is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket?
Former Sri Lanka spinner Muthiah Muralidaran is the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. He is ahead of, Shane Warne, James Anderson and Anil Kumble in the highest wickets tally. Muthiah has 800 wickets to his name in 133 Test matches, at an average of 22.72. He is only the third bowler to have to cross the 700-wicket mark in Test cricket.
The right-arm off-break bowler made his Test debut in 1992 against Australia at Colombo. It wasn’t a dream debut, but in years to come, he established himself as a champion for Sri Lankan cricket. The legendary bowler could turn the ball sharply on any surface. He could bowl marathon spells in the longer format of the game. Muthiah Muralidaran was considered unplayable, especially at home. In 73 Test matches at home, the spinner has 493 wickets, with forty-five five-wicket hauls. The Sri Lankan great retired from Test cricket in 2010.
Muthiah Muralidaran’s Test record
Muthiah Muralidaran’s stats convey that he enjoyed bowling the most against England. In 16 matches, he has 112 wickets against them at an average of 20.06. Next on the list are India and South Africa, against whom he picked up 105 and 104 Test wickets each. The Kandy-born cricketer has 50-plus wickets each against all of his Test opponents. While he has a great record at home, Muralidharan’s away record too should not be taken lightly. In 60 matches, he has 307 wickets, out of which 48 have come in England.
Former South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher has been dismissed most (12 times) by Muralidharan. Grant Flower, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Yousuf, and Khaled Mashud follow the South African on the list. While the Sri Lankan great played under several skippers, he took the most wickets under Sanath Jayasuriya’s leadership, followed by Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardene.
Muthiah Muralidaran has several achievements to his name in Test cricket. He has won the most Player of the Series awards (11 awards). The spinner also owns the record for most consecutive ten-wickets-in-a-match. He achieved the record in 2001, taking a ten-wicket haul in four consecutive games. The first came against India, while the second was against Bangladesh. The next two came in a Test series against West Indies. He has also bowled the most number of deliveries in the longer format, which is 44039 deliveries.
Muralidaran is also the record-holder for most wickets at a single ground in red-ball international cricket He has picked 166 wickets at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo. Interestingly, he is also the second in the list with 117 wickets at Asgiriya Stadium, Kandy. The Sri Lankan is one of the greats who has scored 1000 plus runs, taken 50 plus wickets, and has 50 plus catches in Test cricket.
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