Test cricket is every player’s dream, whether a batsman or a bowler. Every player knows the importance of giving their best in Test cricket, as it involves much mental toughness.
Over the years, Test cricket witnessed the arrival of some quality bowlers who made an impression at the highest level. In this piece, we will discuss the ten best bowling performances in terms of wickets/runs by world-class bowlers in the longer format. You can find the same for ODIs here.
The list consists of fast bowlers as well as spinners. These bowlers possessed different skill sets, but their performances will be remembered as the finest.
The performances mentioned in the list were match-winning, as these bowlers went on to win the games single-handedly by registering impressive bowling figures.
Let us have a look at the 10 best bowling figures in Test cricket.
#10 Muttiah Muralitharan- 9/65 vs England in 1998 (The Oval)
Muralitharan made the ball drift in the air and landed the ball in the right areas. The off-spinner managed to get enough turns putting the English batters in two minds. Sri Lanka won the match by 10 wickets, and Muralitharan played a significant role in this win. He bowled 27 maidens giving away 65 runs with an economy rate of 1.19.
One of his greatest strengths was his ability to turn the ball even on flat batting wickets, so in this particular game, the wicket looked good for batting in the latter part, but the off-spinner managed to outsmart the English batters with his turn and bounce.
#9 Devon Malcolm- 9/57 vs South Africa in 1994 (The Oval)
Malcolm was born in Jamaica but played for England, just like Jofra Archer. Surprisingly, he could not represent England in more Test matches. The pacer was amongst the fastest bowlers during that period.
Malcolm outgunned the South African batting line-up in this game with his speed and swing. His figures of 9/57 in that game would be considered the best in English conditions. The pacer bowled two maiden overs in 16.3 overs that he bowled. The pacer seaming length was difficult to handle for the South African batters.
#8 Abdul Qadir – 9/56 vs England in 1987 (Lahore)
Abdul Qadir was at his best in this particular match. The off-spinner mixed his deliveries well and bowled as per every English batter’s strength. He bowled quicker through the air and pitched the ball in the right areas. His line looked inch-perfect as he made the batters play on the back foot most of the time.
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#7 Richard Hadlee – 9/52 vs Australia in 1985 (Brisbane)
The legendary all-rounder looked unplayable with his outswingers and seaming deliveries on a wicket that aided seam bowling. Hadlee bowled a fine length and made the Aussies batsmen play forward. His figures of 9/52 will be remembered as one of the finest spells in Australia.
Hadlee swung the ball cleverly with the old ball as well as the new ball. Hadlee used the short ball cleverly as he landed the ball in the areas where he could get an uneven bounce.
#6 Muttiah Muralitharan – 9/51 vs Zimbabwe in 2002 (Kandy)
Arguably one of the best spells bowled by the spin magician in his roller-coaster Test career. Muralitharan looked deadly with his spin, bounce, and accurate length.
The Zimbabwean batters looked helpless against him as they could hardly after any resistance against him. The off-spinner foxed the batters with his flight and enticed them to play forward. It was amazing to see how he added enough variations, even with the new ball.
#5 Jim Laker – 9/37 vs Australia in 1956 (Manchester)
Jim Laker, the first bowler in history to pick ten wickets in an innings, also bowled brilliantly in the first innings of the same match, claiming 9/37. He was consistent with his length and flighted the ball well. The straighter ones puzzled the Australian batters. Laker is known for using his wrong ones to good effect against the run of play, which was apparent in this particular spell.
Picking 19 wickets overall in that game is the best bowling figure in a single Test match by any cricketer, till date. This also put him second in the list of bowlers who have picked the most wickets in a single bilateral Test series.
#4 George Lohmann – 9/28 vs South Africa in 1896 (Johannesburg)
Lohmann bowled tight lines in this game, hardly giving any chance to the South African batters. The medium pacer bowled 6 maiden overs and registered figures of 9/28 in just 14 overs. These figures would be considered the best by any English bowler on a South African wicket till now.
His economy rate of 2.33 that game while being rich at the wickets column ensured England didn’t leak too many runs. England won this game by a huge margin of an innings and 197 runs, with Lohmann picking 12 wickets, both innings together.
#3 Ajaz Patel – 10/119 vs India in 2021 (Mumbai)
The second off-spinner and the only left-hander to claim ten wickets in a Test innings, Ajaz Patel made the Indian batters make mistakes while judging the length. He was accurate with his line and bowled the wrong ones to put the Indian batsmen in two minds. As a left-arm off-spinner, he did not hesitate to make the batters play forward, which made Indian wickets fall at regular intervals to him.
The slow left-arm orthodox bowler registered a spectacular figure of 10/119 in his 47.5 overs with an economy rate of 2.48. This is also the best bowling performance ever, coming in a losing cause for any team.
#2 Anil Kumble – 10/74 vs Pakistan in 1999 (Delhi)
This particular spell from Anil Kumble brought everyone to the edge of their seats. The legendary leg-spinner bowled brilliantly, constantly asking questions to the Pakistani batters.
“Jumbo,” as he is fondly called, adjusted his length as per a particular batsman’s weakness. This was one of the best exhibitions of leg spin bowling. Kumble became only the second bowler to claim 10 wickets in an innings of a Test match. He bowled 26.3 overs, and in that 9 were maiden overs.
#1 Jim Laker – 10/53 vs Australia in 1956 (Manchester)
Laker would be considered amongst the best off-spinner in English cricket. Very few matches were played during those days, so the bowlers had little idea about the opposition batters’ weaknesses. Laker maintained tremendous consistency during that period.
In this match, the off-spinner turned the ball wonderfully and surprised the Australian batters with his faster ones. In 51.2 overs, he bowled 23 maiden overs with an economy rate of 1.03, which is outstanding. Laker also bowled quicker through the air and occasionally used the straighter ones.