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Most combined wickets by a bowling pair in Test Cricket

James Anderson and Stuart Broad have taken 505 wickets between them in 67 Tests © Getty Images
James Anderson and Stuart Broad have taken 505 wickets between them in 67 Tests © Getty Images

English duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad completed 500 wickets between them in the 67 test matches they played together. They achieved the feat in the Southampton test against India. Bharath Seervi compiles the list of bowling pairs grabbing most wickets in the history of Test cricket.

English opening bowling partners James Anderson and Stuart Broad achieved a remarkable feat in Test cricket. They both have taken 500 wickets in the matches they played together. In fact, in the 67 Test matches they played together, they both have taken 505 wickets between them – 264 by Anderson and 241 by Broad.

James Anderson has played 97 Tests and Stuart Broad has played 72. Among which they both have played together in 67 tests from 2008 till date. With their 500 wickets mark, they became the eighth bowling pair to reach the mark and the first pair from England. They are also the fifth pair of pacemen to reach the milestone.

In the matches Anderson-Broad played together, they have aggregated 23 five-wicket hauls and ten-wicket hauls. The combined average of the pair is 29.37 and the strike rate being 58.90 in the test matches they played together. 505 wickets in 67 tests results to 7.54 wickets per match by the duo. There were a total of 1115 wickets taken by English players in the matches in which Anderson and Broad appeared together. 505 wickets by the pair out of 1115 wickets amount to 45.29% of the team’s wickets.

With Anderson and Broad reaching 500 wickets, below is an analysis of the bowling pairs with most test wickets combined, number of wickets per match by them and percentage of team’s total wickets.

Most combined wickets by a pace bowling pair in Test Cricket (300 or more wickets)

Wickets Bowler 1 Wkts 1 Bowler 2 Wkts 2 Period Team Mat Avg S/R 5 WI 10 WM W/M % Team
762 CEL Ambrose 389 CA Walsh 373 1988-2000 West Indies 95 22.67 56.15 36 5 8.02 49.16
559 WasimAkram 282 WaqarYounis 277 1985-2002 Pakistan 61 22.12 45.65 37 7 9.16 55.79
547 SM Pollock 377 JH Kallis 170 1995-2008 South Africa 93 25.99 61.78 18 1 5.88 35.27
538 M Ntini 350 JH Kallis 188 1998-2009 South Africa 93 33.43 64.71 18 3 5.78 34.14
505* JM Anderson 264 SCJ Broad 241 2008-2014 England 67 29.37 58.90 23 4 7.54 45.29
490 M Ntini 255 SM Pollock 235 1998-2008 South Africa 63 26.24 56.27 20 4 7.78 45.24
484 GD McGrath 274 JN Gillespie 210 1996-2005 Australia 58 23.01 51.65 23 1 8.34 46.05
476 IT Botham 254 RGD Willis 222 1977-1984 England 60 25.18 53.58 29 3 7.93 49.12
463* DW Steyn 272 M Morkel 191 2008-2014 South Africa 54 25.38 48.40 22 3 8.57 50.44
424 DW Steyn 335 JH Kallis 89 2004-2013 South Africa 65 25.46 48.68 22 5 6.52 37.62
397 AA Donald 208 SM Pollock 189 1995-2002 South Africa 47 21.84 51.35 22 1 8.45 50.13
371 GD McGrath 194 B Lee 177 1999-2007 Australia 45 25.31 52.13 17 2 8.24 44.11
367 MJ Hoggard 200 A Flintoff 167 2001-2006 England 49 29.11 55.46 9 1 7.49 48.80
345 RR Lindwall 195 KR Miller 150 1946-1956 Australia 51 23.00 60.11 16 0 6.76 39.75
340 SJ Harmison 174 MJ Hoggard 166 2002-2008 England 45 30.61 55.72 13 2 7.56 45.09
338 MD Marshall 201 CA Walsh 137 1984-1991 West Indies 42 22.48 52.50 16 2 8.05 46.30
337 RJ Hadlee 207 BL Cairns 130 1974-1985 New Zealand 42 26.09 63.62 22 4 8.02 53.07
331 J Garner 170 MA Holding 161 1979-1987 West Indies 40 21.97 51.99 13 1 8.28 47.83
322 MD Marshall 170 J Garner 152 1980-1987 West Indies 36 21.72 49.58 15 2 8.94 51.27
310 RJ Hadlee 195 EJ Chatfield 115 1977-1989 New Zealand 39 25.39 63.00 20 6 7.95 55.66
304 CEL Ambrose 154 IR Bishop 150 1989-1998 West Indies 39 22.62 51.90 16 2 7.79 49.03
303 SJ Harmison 154 A Flintoff 149 2002-2009 England 44 31.59 59.94 7 0 6.89 41.39

Wkts 1 and wkts 2 denote the number of wickets taken by bowler 1 and bowler 2 respectively in the matches they played together.

W/M denotes the rate of wickets per match by the pair.

% Team denotes the percentage of wickets of team’s total wickets.

The bowling pair with most combined wickets is the Caribbean pace battery of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. In the 95 matches they played together from 1988 to 2000, they aggregated a record 762 wickets at a combined bowling average of 22.67 and strike rate of 56.15. They took an average of more than 8 wickets per match and took team’s 49.16% of the total wickets.

Other bowling pairs with 500+ combined wickets are Pakistan’s Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and South Africa’s two pairs – Shaun Pollock & Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini & Jacques Kallis, Kallis did not have a major contribution though. There is atleast one pair of pace bowlers with combined wickets of 300 from each of the top eight teams except from Sri Lanka and India.

Pakistan’s pair Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis has the best combined strike rate (45.65), highest number of combined 5 wicket hauls (37), highest number of combined 10 wicket hauls (7), highest rate of wickets per match (9.16) and highest % of team’s wickets (55.79%) as well. It is enough to rate them as one of the best bowling pair in the history of Test Cricket.

Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner have the best combined bowling average of 21.72 among the above 22 pace bowling pairs with combined tally of 300+ wickets.

Now, let us see the overall bowling pairs – combination of pacers and spinners – who dominated the field. The table below lists the bowling pairs with atleast 300 combined wickets. It does not include the pace bowling pairs which are listed in the previous table.

Most combined wickets by a bowling pair in Test Cricket (300 or more wickets)

Wickets Bowler 1 Wkts 1 Bowler 2 Wkts 2 Period Team Mat Avg S/R 5WI 10 WM W/M % Team
1001 SK Warne 513 GD McGrath 488 1993-2007 Australia 104 23.17 53.21 51 9 9.63 53.36
895 M Muralitharan 586 WPUJC Vaas 309 1994-2009 Sri Lanka 95 24.11 58.01 57 20 9.42 59.47
501 A Kumble 281 Harbhajan Singh 220 1998-2008 India 54 30.22 65.04 36 9 9.28 57.52
474 Harbhajan Singh 268 Zaheer Khan 206 2001-2012 India 59 30.27 61.07 25 5 8.03 49.07
455 GP Swann 236 JM Anderson 219 2008-2013 England 56 29.20 59.51 25 4 8.13 47.69
435 SK Warne 269 JN Gillespie 176 1996-2006 Australia 53 27.50 56.19 20 5 8.21 45.60
421 SK Warne 246 B Lee 175 1999-2007 Australia 45 27.26 50.96 21 4 9.36 50.06
418 LR Gibbs 237 GS Sobers 181 1958-1974 West Indies 60 30.56 88.41 20 2 6.97 41.14
412 A Kumble 225 J Srinath 187 1992-2002 India 52 28.56 65.94 20 4 7.92 52.55
406 GP Swann 223 SCJ Broad 183 2008-2013 England 50 29.31 58.07 23 4 8.12 48.05
394 Kapil Dev 243 RJ Shastri 151 1981-1992 India 79 35.15 83.00 11 1 4.99 37.81
368 BS Chandrasekhar 184 BS Bedi 184 1966-1978 India 42 27.96 68.15 24 2 8.76 58.69
363 CS Martin 186 DL Vettori 177 2001-2012 New Zealand 58 36.52 74.22 16 2 6.26 37.81
346 AK Davidson 177 R Benaud 169 1953-1963 Australia 41 23.89 71.66 24 2 8.44 49.15
336 WW Hall 192 GS Sobers 144 1958-1969 West Indies 48 28.76 66.26 13 1 7.00 40.38
332 A Kumble 200 Z Khan 132 2001-2008 India 43 32.95 61.23 12 1 7.72 46.96
332 Imran Khan 197 Abdul Qadir 135 1979-1990 Pakistan 44 26.51 59.29 20 6 7.55 47.91
331 BS Bedi 169 EAS Prasanna 162 1967-1979 India 43 30.02 78.91 17 1 7.70 49.63
316 WaqarYounis 177 Mushtaq Ahmed 139 1990-2001 Pakistan 40 26.75 53.43 19 5 7.90 47.59
313 WasimAkram 185 Mushtaq Ahmed 128 1990-2000 Pakistan 38 25.01 54.32 19 3 8.24 50.57
307 SK Warne 166 CJ McDermott 141 1992-1996 Australia 35 25.53 60.64 15 4 8.77 50.74
303 RJ Hadlee 208 JG Bracewell 95 1980-1990 New Zealand 37 24.59 58.01 25 6 8.19 54.01

Wkts 1 and Wkts 2 denote the number of wickets taken by bowler 1 and bowler 2 respectively in the matches they played together.

W/M denotes the rate of wickets per match by the pair.

% Team denotes the percentage of wickets of team’s total wickets.

Taking into account all the bowling pairs the highest number of wickets taken combined is 1001 by Australian pair of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. They both appeared in 104 matches together for Australia from 1993 to 2007. Warne took 513 and McGrath took 488 wickets to make it 1001 wickets. They had an average of 23.17 and took wicket every 53.21 balls. Their combined tally of 5 wicket hauls was 51 and 9 ten wicket hauls. They took 9.63 wickets per match and Australia’s 53.36% of wickets were taken by them.

Next to Warne-McGrath pair is the pair from Sri Lanka of Muttiah Muralitharan and ChamindaVaas. They grabbed 895 wickets in their 95 appearances. Their pair was much dominated by Muralitharan. He took 586 of those wickets compared to Vaas’ 309.

The spin pair with most combined wickets is India’s Anil Kumble-Harbhajan Singh’s pair. They appeared in 54 matches together and took 501 wickets at average of 30.22 and strike rate of 65.04. They took 9.28 wickets per match and 57.52% of the team’s wickets were by them. There are only three other spin pairs with combined wickets of more than 300. Two of those are again Indians – Bishan Bedi & Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Bishan Bedi & Erapalli Prasanna – and one from West Indies – Lance Gibbs & Garry Sobers. Considering Garry Sobers as purely spinner is quite wrong as he bowled medium pace and opened innings in later part of his career.

The section from New Zealand is dominated by Richard Hadlee. He took 300+ wickets in pair with three bowlers – Lance Cairns, John Bracewell and Even Chatfield. Sri Lanka does not have any other pair other than Muralitharan-Vaas. Jacques Kallis finds his name with three pairs but his personal combination was relatively low.

The highest average of number of wickets per match is 9.63 by Warne-McGrath and highest percentage of team’s wickets is 59.47 by Muralitharan-Vaas. Indian pairs of Bedi-Chandrasekhar and Kumble-Harbhajan are second and third in the list for highest percentage of team’s wickets.

The worst bowling average is 36.52 by Vettori-Martin for New Zealand whereas the worst strike rate is 88.41 by Gibbs-Sobers. Kapil Dev-Ravi Shastri have lowest wickets per match (4.99) and Ntini-Kallis have lowest percentage of team’s wickets (34.14%).

Note: The list does not include the pairs formed by one of the players being a non-regular bowler and took a considerable amount of wickets. For example pairs formed by likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Carl Hooper, etc. are not included.

(Bharath Seervi is a cricket statistician who is obsessed with digging numbers, facts and records related to the game. An active member of Society of Cricket Statisticians of India, he blogs at www.cricketseervistats.blogspot.com. He can be followed on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/SeerviBharath and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SeerviCricket)

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