Best Bowling Figures in Test Match Innings

Test match cricket is the biggest challenge for any player. It’s a popular theory that I happen to agree with, so let’s take a look at some stunning performances from bowlers who have produced best innings figures.

What are the Best Bowling Figures in Test Cricket?

The best bowling figures in a test innings are the 10/53 delivered by Jim Laker. The feat came in the Old Trafford test of Australia’s Ashes tour of 1956.

Laker took 19 wickets in this match which is another all-time record.

10 Best Bowling Figures In Test Cricket History

Jim Laker (England, 1956) – 10/53

As we’ve already seen, Jim Laker currently holds the record for the best figures in a test innings with his 10/53. It’s an incredible feat to take all ten wickets and, so far, it’s only happened three times in almost 150 years of test matches.

The off spinner’s return came from 51.2 overs, 23 of which were maidens. Australia had no answer on a turning pitch and England would go on to win the game by an innings and 170 runs.

Jim Laker
Jim Laker in 1956

Anil Kumble (India, 1999) – 10/74

Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble became the second cricketer to take all ten wickets in a test innings. Playing against Pakistan in Delhi in February 1999, his figures of 10/74 came from 26.3 overs.

The return came in the final innings of the match as Pakistan chased 420 for victory. The tourists were dismissed for 207 and therefore lost by 212 runs.

Anil Kumble

Ajaz Patel (New Zealand, 2021) – 10/119

The exclusive list of test cricketers to take ten wickets in an innings expanded to three in 2021. Playing for New Zealand against India at the Wankhede Stadium in December, the spinner claimed his ten victims for 119 runs in the home side’s first innings total of 325.

Unfortunately for Patel, New Zealand’s bowlers couldn’t capitalise on his efforts and India went on to win the game by 372 runs.

George Lohmann (England, 1896) – 9/28

George Lohmann was a medium pace bowler who played 18 test matches for England between 1886 and 1896. In his final year of international cricket, he claimed the remarkable figures of 9/28 against South Africa at Johannesburg.

It was a record that stood for 60 years and it remains the most economical return for any bowler claiming nine wickets in a test innings. This was only the 48th test match in the history of the game and Lohmann’s efforts helped England to a win by an innings and 197 runs.

George Lohmann
George Lohmann

Jim Laker (England, 1956) – 9/37

It’s an incredible feat to appear twice on this list, but Jim Laker’s two returns came in the same match. His 19 wickets in a single test match is a record that may well stand for all time.

In the first innings of that incredible test match against Australia in 1956, England’s Premier off spinner returned figures of 9/37

Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, 2002) – 9/51

With exactly 800 victims, Muttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket taker in test match cricket, so it’s no surprise to see him appear on this list. His best figures in this form of the game came against Zimbabwe in 2002 in the very first innings.

He took the first nine wickets and should have claimed all ten. Chaminda Vaas dismissed Henry Olonga at the end, but the ball appeared to miss the outside edge and the Sri Lankans didn’t even appeal for the caught behind.

Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan

Richard Hadlee (New Zealand, 1985) – 9/52

A cricketing knight and New Zealand’s premier bowler, Sir Richard Hadlee’s best figures in tests were the 9/52 that he returned against Australia at Brisbane in 1985.

That performance came in the first innings of the match as the Aussies were dismissed for just 179. New Zealand fielded a strong side at the time and their only knock of 553/7 featured a half century from Hadlee.

Hadlee excelled again with six wickets in the second innings as Australia slipped to 333 all out to lose by an innings and 41 runs.

Sir Richard Hadlee

Abdul Qadir (Pakistan, 1987) – 9/56

Another world class leg spinner slots in here with Abdul Qadir claiming the exceptional figures of 9/56 while playing for Pakistan against England at Lahore in 1987. This was a controversial tour when a number of umpiring decisions came under the spotlight, but that shouldn’t detract from Qadir’s brilliant performance.

Those nine wickets came in the first innings of the match as England made just 175. The tourists never fully recovered and Pakistan went on to win the game by an innings and 87 runs.

Devon Malcolm (England, 1994) – 9/57

‘You guys are history’. Those were the words uttered by Devon Malcolm the batsman as he was struck on the helmet by South Africa’s Fanie de Villiers. He was clearly set on revenge and this aggressive bouncer probably wasn’t the best approach for the South Africans at The Oval in 1994.

The English paceman had an early chance to secure that revenge and Malcom seized it. With genuine pace and hostility, he returned figures of 9/57 to dismiss the South Africans for just 175 and set up an eight-wicket win.

Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, 1998) – 9/65

Along with Jim Laker, Muttiah Muralitharan is the only bowler to appear on this list twice. The mystery spinner took nine wickets in an innings for the first time when his Sri Lankan team took on England at The Oval in 1998.

On a helpful pitch, the home side had no answer to Murali the magician. He took 16 wickets in the match and that return of 9/65 helped set up a ten-wicket win for the Sri Lankans.


As always, there are some interesting points to note from a list of this kind. Firstly, the majority of names on this list are spinners. Only Richard Hadlee, Devon Malcolm and George Lohmann are flying the flag for the quicker bowlers.

Most of these returns have led to wins and that’s probably to be expected. The challenge now is for today’s players to break through and join this top ten with spectacular returns over the next few years.