Bowling, often an unsung hero in cricket, has the power to change the outcome of a game in a matter of minutes. The real magic happens when a bowler takes the most wickets, especially when in a singular inning of a Test match. It’s those epic moments when the bowler’s rhythm, the pace of the ball, and the stadium’s energy align perfectly. Such historic feats are what make cricket a sport of legends. In this article, we’re about to journey through the ten most outstanding bowling figures in Test cricket history.
Even though these records are etched in history, with emerging talent from all cricket-playing nations, the hope lingers that we might see these records being surpassed soon.
Best Bowling Figures in Test History – 2023 Updates
10. Muttiah Muralitharan – 9/65  & 9/51 
Born in Sri Lanka in 1972 and with an estimated net worth of $22 million, Muttiah Muralitharan remains one of cricket’s legends. With a career spanning nearly two decades, he has multiple record-breaking stints under his belt. On 27th August 1998 at the Oval, he mesmerized the English team with his off-spin, securing 9 wickets for just 65 runs in 54.2 overs. Another noteworthy performance was against Zimbabwe in Kandy, where he managed 9 wickets for a mere 51 runs.
9. Devon Malcolm – 9/57 
Devon Malcolm, born in Jamaica in 1963 but representing England, has an estimated net worth of $5 million. With a career spanning over a decade, Malcolm is often considered one of the finest fast bowlers. His best came against South Africa in 1994 at the Oval when he took 9 wickets, allowing only 57 runs.
8. Abdul Qadir – 9/56 
Abdul Qadir, born in 1955 in Pakistan, was a wizard with leg-spin. His remarkable performance against England at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is still remembered, where he took 9 wickets while giving away just 56 runs in 1987.
7. Richard Hadlee – 9/52 
New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee, born in 1951 and with a net worth of $10 million, showcased an outstanding performance against Australia in 1985. Taking 9 wickets for 52 runs in Brisbane, he solidified his legacy as one of cricket’s finest all-rounders.
6. Muttiah Muralitharan – 9/51 
Returning to our list is the maestro Muttiah Muralitharan. This time, it’s for his spellbinding performance against Zimbabwe in Kandy, 2002. Bowling a formidable 40 overs, he managed to claim 9 wickets while parting with just 51 runs.
5. Jim Laker – 9/37 
Jim Laker, the former English off-spinner born in 1922, was a force to be reckoned with. Known for his precision and skill, he demonstrated his prowess against Australia in Manchester in 1956, where he dismissed 9 batsmen for a mere 37 runs.
4. George Lohmann – 9/28 
One of the early cricket legends, George Lohmann, who was born in 1865 in England, spun a web around the South African batsmen in Johannesburg in 1896. Claiming 9 wickets while conceding only 28 runs, his achievement is even more noteworthy considering the 5-ball per over rule of that era.
3. Ajaz Patel – 10/119 
Ajaz Yunus Patel, the left-arm orthodox spinner with Kiwi and Indian origins, was born in 1988. In December 2021, he etched his name in history by claiming all 10 wickets of the Indian team in Mumbai, conceding only 119 runs in the process.
2. Anil Kumble – 10/74 
India’s Anil Kumble, born in 1970 and boasting an estimated net worth of $15 million, showcased a masterclass against Pakistan in Delhi, 1999. He became only the second bowler in history to take all 10 wickets in a Test inning, giving away just 74 runs.
1. Jim Laker – 10/53 
The top spot unsurprisingly goes to Jim Laker for his unparalleled performance against Australia in Manchester, 1956. With an economy of just 1.03, he bowled 51.2 overs to claim all 10 wickets, giving away only 53 runs.
Honorable Mention: Jasubhai Patel – 9/69 
An outstanding figure in Indian cricket history, Jasubhai Patel was born in 1924. Against Australia in 1959 in Kanpur, he displayed a bowling masterclass, taking 9 wickets for 69 runs in a single inning. With a career-best of 14 wickets in that Test match, Patel’s performance remains etched in cricketing folklore.