From his bowling action coming under the scanner on several occasions to finishing with 800 wickets — the highest ever in the longest format, Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan emerged as a champion bowler, who never bowed down to the challenges that came his way. The ‘smiling assassin’ was also the fastest ever to get to the 500-wicket mark, in just his 87th Test. Beating his rival Sharne Warne in the race, Muralitharan, ironically in a match against Australia in Kandy, achieved the feat when he dismissed Michael Kasprowicz. Simultaneously Murali also recorded 500 dismissals in record time (in terms of days) in reaching the feat — 11 years and 201 days. With 67 five-wicket hauls and 22 ten-wicket per match hauls, Muralitharan finished his career at the top of the pile of most successful bowlers. He still holds the record for the most number of Test wickets (800).
02/5Anil Kumble (India) – 105 matches
India’s Anil Kumble, despite not being a ferocious turner of the cricket ball, always lived by his never say die attitude up his sleeve and honed his other skills to emerge as a world class bowler. With multiple variations in his armoury, Kumble could bowl 6 different variations in an over. And with that element of surprise combined with deadly accuracy and a lot of hard work, Kumble became the second fastest to get to 500 Test wickets — getting to the landmark in his 105th Test. For Kumble, his 500th wicket came against England in Mohali when he got rid of Steve Harmison and got to the milestone in 15 years and 212 days. Finishing his career with a total of 619 wickets in 132 Tests, Kumble is India’s highest-ever Test wicket taker and the country’s only bowler in the elite 500-wicket club. He is third on the list of most Test wickets of all time (619).
03/5Shane Warne (Australia) – 108 matches
From delivering the ‘ball of the century’ to ending it with 708 wickets, Shane Warne, for a major part of his Test career maintained the top spot amongst bowlers. One of the most feared spinners of all time, Warne decimated oppositions across continents to take Australian cricket to unparalleled success. And it was Warne, who after the legendary West Indian Courtney Walsh became the second ever in the history of the game to breach-the 500-wicket mark in Tests. In the match against Sri Lanka at Galle, which was Warne’s 108th Test, the leggie dismissed Hashan Tillakaratne to get to the coveted mark. On the list of the fastest bowlers to 500 Test wickets, Warne currently sits in third place. The Victoria-born cricketer, eventually ended up playing 145 Tests for the country where he managed 708 wickets a remarkable strike rate of 57.4. With 37 five-wicket hauls along with 10 ten-wickets per match hauls, Warne finished his career as the second best in the all-time list behind Muralitharan.
04/5Glenn McGrath (Australia) – 110 matches
The ever impactful Glenn McGrath, who was one of the most successful speedsters to have ever played for Australia, was phenomenal with the ball in hand. His pinpoint accuracy made him one of the most feared bowlers. Finishing with a total of 563 Test wickets, McGrath is the second most successful Test bowler to have played for Australia, after Shane Warne. It was during one of the Ashes Tests against their arch-rivals England when McGrath became the second fast bowler in the history of the game after Courtney Walsh to breach the 500-wicket mark in Tests. With the wicket of Marcus Trescothick in the first Test at Lord’s, McGrath entered the club in his 110th Test. However, after 14 more matches, McGrath brought down the curtain on his 14-year long Test career.
05/5Courtney Walsh (West Indies) and James Anderson (England) – 129 matches
The first ever to breach the 500-wicket barrier in Tests, Courtney Walsh was a legendary speedster, who helped West Indies continue their dominance of the 70’s and the 80s into the 90s in Test cricket. Meanwhile England’s James Anderson grew tremendously over the years to become England’s best and one of the greatest in modern-day cricket. Anderson and Walsh are joint fifth on the list of fastest bowlers to 500 Test wickets. Both bowlers reached the 500 Test wicket mark in their 129th Tests. While Walsh broke the barrier against South Africa in March 2001, Anderson got to the landmark against West Indies at Lord’s in September 2017. For Walsh, it took 16 years and 128 days to register 500 wickets from the date of his debut on November 4, 1984. Anderson meanwhile took 14 years and 108 days to join the club. While Anderson is currently fourth on the list of most Test wickets taken (584), Walsh is sixth with 519 wickets.