Which players have taken the most wickets in Test match history?

James Anderson

On Saturday, March 9th, James Anderson made history as he became just the third person – and only pace bowler – in history to take 700 test wickets.

This monumental chapter to his story is a feat that places him among the legends of the game firmly establishing his legacy as perhaps the greatest fast bowler of all time. Making his Test debut in 2003, the Lancashire star has become the epitome of seam bowling, mastering conditions around the globe.

His ability to swing the ball both ways, combined with precision and an unwavering competitive spirit, has made him a nightmare for batsmen, even at the ripe old age of 41.

Anderson joins an elite club

He notched up his 699th wicket when he dismissed Shubman Gill after a blistering century on day two of the fifth test in Dharamshala but was made to wait to bring up 700. He didn’t have to wait too long, luckily. He went on to remove Man of the match Kuldeep Yadav on the morning of day three to reach the milestone and further cement his position as the third-highest wicket-taker of all time. However, that was as good as it got for the tourists.

Throughout the course of the five-test series, England had more than held their own. They picked up a historic 28-run victory in the curtain-raiser, before giving the hosts all they could handle in the second as well. However, as the series continued, the Indians flexed their muscles and this victory was as decisive as it gets. The hosts won by an innings and 64 runs thanks to centuries from the aforementioned Gill and captain Rohit Sharma, before the spin-bowling prowess of Ravi Ashwin and Yadav took over. Those two combined to take 16 wickets between them and consign England to a resounding 4-1 series defeat.

But with Anderson joining an exclusive club with only three members, who else rounds at the top four wicket-takers in the history of test cricket? Let’s take a look.

Muttiah Muralitharan

Anderson’s achievement brings into focus the pantheon of cricket’s greatest wicket-takers, a group led by the Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan. With an astounding 800 wickets in Test matches, the Sri Lankan’s career spanned from 1992 to 2010, during which he became the cornerstone of his country’s bowling attack.

His off-spin was characterized by prodigious turn, cunning variations, and an uncanny ability to read batsmen’s intentions. Murali’s record of 800 wickets is a pinnacle that seems insurmountable, a testament to his greatness and enduring legacy in the sport. And with Anderson now being 41 years of age, chances are that his record is safe and sound for now.

Shane Warne

Closely following Muralitharan is the late Australian leg-spin legend Shane Warne, who claimed 708 wickets in his illustrious career. The Victoria-born star transformed the art of leg-spin, bringing it to the forefront of the game with his charisma, competitive fire, and a vast arsenal of deliveries. His “Ball of the Century” to dismiss Mike Gatting in 1993 is etched in cricket folklore, a moment that encapsulated his genius.

12 years on from that moment, he went on to have the series of his life – albeit in a losing effort – in the 2005 Ashes series against England, a series that will go down as perhaps the greatest in the history of the sport. His shocking passing two years ago took the sporting world by storm, but his legacy will live on forever, as will his breathtaking deliveries on highlight reels for centuries to come.

James Anderson

James Anderson, with his recent milestone, slots in at the third position with 700 wickets and counting. His name is now mentioned in the same breath as the two spinning sensations mentioned before him. However, the 186 matches it took him to reach the total – in comparison to Murali’s 133 and Warne’s 145 – is a testament to his longevity and prowess in the game’s longest format.

Despite his advancing years, his story is far from over and the English cricketing summer is about to get underway. They will face Pakistan, the West Indies, and Sri Lanka on home turf in just a matter of weeks, before contesting the T20 World Cup in the USA and the Caribbean a few months later. Online cricket odds providers have made them a +400 second favorite for that competition, and they will be hoping that key stars such as Anderson are firing on all cylinders.

Anil Kumble

The fourth spot is held by India’s own spin maestro, Anil Kumble, who captured 619 wickets in his Test career. Known for his tireless work ethic and a unique leg-spinning style that relied more on pace and bounce than turn, Kumble was a fixture in the Indian team for nearly two decades.

His ten-wicket haul in a single innings against Pakistan in 1999 remains one of the most remarkable feats in cricket history, and he is only one of three men to ever achieve the feat.