500 wickets is an exceptional landmark for any bowler in test cricket. Very few have made it to this level but who has been the quickest? Here is your round up.
Who Took the Fastest 500 Wickets in Tests?
The man who reached 500 test wickets in the shortest time was Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. Murali hit this milestone in his 87th test and it took him 11 years and 201 days to get there.
This means that he is the fastest, both in terms of tests played and time to reach the 500 mark.
Fastest 500 Test Wickets within 150 Matches
Muttiah Muralitharan – Sri Lanka
- Matches: 87
- Time: 11y 201d
We already know that Muttiah Muralitharan is the fastest to 500 test wickets, but it’s worth looking at this achievement in closer detail. He got there in just 87 matches which is 18 games quicker than his closest rival Anil Kumble.
In regards to timing, he’s also quickest although Glenn McGrath is relatively close in second place. Murali continued to maintain his spectacular wicket-taking ratio and would retire with exactly 800 wickets from 133 tests.
Anil Kumble – India
- Matches: 105
- Time: 15y 212d
In terms of the number of test matches, Anil Kumble is the second fastest player to 500 wickets. The Indian leg spinner reached this milestone in his 105th game, but it took him over 15 years to get there.
Kumble was helped on his way when he became only the second bowler to take all ten wickets in a test innings. This feat was achieved against Pakistan in 1999 and those ten victims contributed to Kumble’s overall haul of 619 wickets from 132 tests.
Shane Warne – Australia
- Matches: 108
- Time: 12y 66d
It’s worth remembering, when we look at Shane Warne’s returns, that he was forced to take a year out of the game in 2003. With that in mind, it might be fair to assume that the Australian would have reached this milestone in a faster time than Murali.
The two spinners were in direct competition for much of their careers but, while Shane Warne sits in second place in terms of stats, there’s no doubt that he was one of the greatest to ever play the game.
He reached 500 test wickets after 108 games, but he was far from finished. When he eventually retired, Warne had claimed 708 victims in 145 test matches.
Glenn McGrath – Australia
- Matches: 110
- Time: 11y 251d
With Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in their team, Australia were formidable opponents for much of the 1990s and early 2000s. McGrath was a world class seam bowler with an ideal wrist position that allowed him to get consistent seam movement off the pitch.
He didn’t have a great deal of pace but that was no problem as he reached 500 test wickets in his 110th match. He’s also just behind Murali in terms of timing with those 500 wickets taking 11 years and 251 days to arrive.
Courtney Walsh – West Indies
- Matches: 129
- Time: 16y 128d
Fast bowlers don’t tend to enjoy long careers but Courtney Walsh’s supreme fitness levels made him an exception. He may have taken 16 years to get to 500 test wickets but that’s a testament to his longevity.
In his younger days, Walsh had some serious pace. As he got older, he slowed down to an extent and relied more on line, length and seam movement. His career would eventually last for 17 years and he finished with 519 test wickets.
James Anderson – England
- Matches: 129
- Time: 14y 108d
Jimmy Anderson was the first English bowler to reach 500 test wickets and he’s also the fastest of his countrymen at the time of writing. The Lancashire seamer is still bowling past the age of 40 and he still has time to climb the list.
When the England v South Africa test series of 2022 came to a close, Anderson had taken 667 wickets in 175 test matches with best innings figures of 7/42.
Stuart Broad – England
- Matches: 140
- Time: 12y 228d
England’s Stuart Broad is the newest member of the 500 club. He was the slowest to get there in terms of games played, but it’s still a remarkable achievement for any bowler.
Just like his long-term opening partner Jimmy Anderson, Broad continues to feature for his country at test level and he’s looking to make his way up the all time list. At the end of the English summer in 2022, Stuart Broad had taken 566 wickets in 159 games.
That set of statistics includes a memorable best of 8/15 which was taken against Australia in the Ashes series of 2015.
In some ways, the fact that all of these bowlers have played at some point in the 21st century, tells us that there is much more cricket being played in the modern day. There have been some great test bowlers in the past, but some of them may not have had the opportunity to pass 500 wickets due to a lack of games.
But that’s not intended to take anything away from the names on this list. They’ve all been brilliant and have got to the 500 mark through exceptional talent and hard work.
The round up leaves two questions: For those that are still playing the game, just how high can they go? Secondly, who will join the list of players with 500 test wickets in the future?