The 10 Best Bowling Figures in Test Cricket

The 10 Best Bowling Figures in Test Cricket

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Unlike in ODI and T20 cricket, bowling in Test matches and scoring the best bowling figures can be difficult, but not impossible. In the shorter game format, batters take the chance to score on every ball they face, which creates opportunities for the bowlers to pick up wickets. But things are different in the longer format.

In Test matches, batters play each delivery carefully to stay longer in the crease, creating fewer chances for the bowlers to scalp wickets. Therefore, being on the list of best bowling figures in a test match is quite an achievement.

In this article, we will be summing up the test best bowling figures of some great bowlers who cemented their place in the list of best bowling figures in test cricket history.

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Top 10 bowling figures in the Test cricket history.

Here is our list of the 10 best bowling figures in test cricket in an innings:

1. Jim Laker (10/53)

Jim laker

Dominating our list of best bowling figures in test cricket history is the England superstar Jim Laker. Jim with his excellent spin bowling holds the record of best bowling figures in a test match in an innings. Being a handy test bowler, Jim knew how to pick up wickets. His consistency with the red Kookaburra helped England claim the Ashes in 1956.

Jim achieved this 10/53 against arch-rival Australia, where he took a total of 19 Australian wickets, giving away only 90 runs. No other bowler has ever taken more than 17 wickets in a Test match.

2. Anil Kumble (10-74)

Anil Kumble

The second entry in our list of best bowling figures in test cricket history is one of the greatest wrist-spin bowlers, Anil Kumble. He is the second bowler in Test match history to take all 10 wickets in an innings and have the best Test bowling figures in a match.

On February 4, 1999, Kumble achieved this milestone on home turf against Pakistan, where he took 10 wickets in just 26.3 overs, one of test best bowling figures. Later, in December 2001, he became the first Indian spinner to take 300 Test wickets.

3. Ajaz Patel (10/119)

Ajaz Patel

Only two bowlers in 144 years of Test cricket had ever taken all 10 wickets in an innings until Ajaz Patel. The left-arm spinner, from New Zealand, secured his name in 2021 alongside Jim Laker and Anil Kumble, and set the record of holding the best bowling figures in test match in an innings.

Patel added a layer of significance with this milestone. He achieved this Test match figure against India in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, where he was born. The 33-year-old Patel took all the four Indian wickets that fell on the first day and registered his test match best bowling figures (10/119) on the second day by picking all the 10 wickets in just 47.5 overs.

4. George Lohmann (9-28)

George Lohmann

Fourth entrant on our list of test match best bowling figures in cricket history is the right-handed medium-pacer from England George Lohmann. Lohmann is regarded as a great cricketer and one of the best red-ball bowlers of his era. He lacked the brutal pace, but he could swing the ball both ways. And things become more complicated when the ball begins to swing both ways in South African conditions.

The same thing happened when England visited South Africa in 1896 which allowed Lohmann to register test cricket best bowling figures of 9/28. In the second test match, South Africa's first innings were a testament to Lohmann’s bowling. Lohmann bowled an impressive 14.2 overs in the innings and took nine wickets, giving away just 28 runs.

5. Jim Laker (9-37)

jim laker

Many of us might be surprised to find the legendary Jim Laker appearing on our list of best bowling figures in test cricket history for the second time. It is due to the class and composure of the former English off-spinner that has made him appear in the first half of the list.

For the same test match in which he wrecked the Aussies and helped his team to claim the Ashes, Jim registered best bowling figures in test match both innings in test cricket history. His innings-wise bowling figure was 9 for 37 in the first innings and 10 for 53 in the second.

6. Muttiah Muralitharan (9-51)

 Muralitharan

When it comes to spin bowling in a Test match, Muralitharan is among the greatest to ever spin a ball and is one of the best off-spinners of all time. His ability to deliver unplayable deliveries and take consistent wickets at the start and middle of the innings made things easier for Sri Lanka.

In 2002, the right-arm off-spinner worked his magic in the first innings of a Test match against Zimbabwe to achieve a great score. Muralitharan took nine wickets for 51 runs in that Test match after bowling 40 overs.

7. Richard Hadlee (9-52)

Richard Hadlee

Richard Hadlee has been one of the best fast bowlers in test cricket. The batters found it difficult to face Hadlee's deliveries due to his ability and accuracy to swing the ball both ways. Hadlee achieved his test cricket best bowling figures when the Trans-Tasman rivalry was at its peak.

In a Test match against the Australians in 1985, the Kiwi pacer exploited Australia’s first innings by taking nine wickets in 23.4 overs, giving away only 52 runs. Hadlee was even ruthless in the second innings of the same match, taking six wickets to help the Kiwis defeat the Aussies by an inning and 41 runs.

8.Abdul Qadir (9-56)

Abdul Qadir

One of the best leg spinners to ever play in the history of Test cricket is the great Pakistani pace bowler Abdul Qadir. He was exceptional due to his ability to quickly scalp wickets against the best batting line-ups.

One such occasion occurred in 1987 when England was touring Pakistan, and a test match was held in Lahore. Due to Qadir's variations, the English batters could not pick up his deliveries and gave him nine wickets.

Qadir achieved this milestone by giving away only 56 runs from 37 overs, thereby cementing his place in our list of the best bowlers in Test matches.

9. Devon Malcolm (9-57)

Devon Malcolm

Devon Malcolm, the right-handed, tall, pace bowler from England, holds the ninth spot on our list of best bowling figures in test cricket history. Known for his high-pace bowling, delivery of brutal bouncers and his ability to move the cherry both ways, Malcolm had the potential to dismantle any batting line-up.

Malcolm achieved his record-breaking number against South Africa in 1994. In that game, he awed the audience by destroying the South African batting line-up in the second innings by picking up nine wickets in 16.3 overs, giving away only 57 runs.

10. Muttiah Muralitharan (9-65)

Muralitharan

Muralitharan once again cemented his place in our list of best bowling figures in test cricket history due to his magic wrist-spin and heroic bowling exploits. Murali exploited the England batting line-up in both the innings during their tour of Sri Lanka in 1998.

The English batters had no idea how to pick up the veteran spinner’s turn, giving him seven wickets in the first innings and nine in the second, thereby registering best bowling figures in test match both innings. With this milestone, Muralitharan became the second bowler to pick up nine wickets for the second time.

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