Warne gets to 700 Test wickets December 26, 2006

Another milestone for the wizard

Shane Warne's 700-wicket journey in numbers
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It's time for a celebratory lap as Shane Warne gets wicket no. 700 © Getty Images
When Shane Warne ripped another prodigious legspinner between Andrew Strauss's bat and pad to clip the stumps, he entered a dizzy zone which no bowler had reached in Test cricket. Warne became the first to get to the 700-club, and over a career which has spanned 14 years, he has been more than a handful against almost all opposition, and in almost all conditions.

His outstanding variety and control have posed innumerable questions of batsmen, and, as Ian Chappell pointed out, the best part is that despite Warne being around for so long, the opposition still haven't figured him out. If anything, he has become even more potent in the last couple of years. The table below shows his progression to 700 wickets, and the striking aspect is that the last 296 wickets have only taken him 52 Tests - that's an average of 5.7 wickets per Test.

Warne path to 700 wickets
Wickets Tests Average 5WI/ 10WM
1-101 23 24.20 5/ 1
102-201 19 21.64 5/ 2
202-300 21 24.86 4/ 1
301-403 29 33.56 5/ 1
404-501 16 23.03 6/ 2
502-603 18 24.88 5/ 2
604-700 18 26.49 6/ 1

"If anyone beats it, they'll be bloody tired," Fred Trueman had said when asked if anyone would break his record of 307 wickets. Warne can say that a few times over. Before the Melbourne Test he had bowled an astounding 40,315 balls, becoming the first bowler to send down more than 40,000 deliveries in Tests.

Most balls bowled in Tests (before the Melbourne Test against England)
Bowler Tests Balls bowled Balls per Test
Shane Warne 143 40,315 282
Muttiah Muralitharan 110 36,705 334
Anil Kumble 111 35,022 316
Courtney Walsh 132 30,019 227
Glenn McGrath 123 28840 234

Warne's career summary says it all: he has an average of less than 30 against nine of the ten opposition line-ups, while his haul of 187 wickets against England (till tea on the opening day) is the highest by any bowler against them. The only team against whom he has struggled is India - his average against them is more than 47. He has poor numbers in India as well, but it isn't as if he hasn't had successes against teams from the subcontinent. In Sri Lanka he averages 20.45 per wicket, while his stats against Pakistan are phenomenal: 90 wickets in 15 Tests at 20.17.

Being part of an outstanding Australian line-up has also meant Warne has been on the winning side more often than most. Going into the Melbourne Test he had figured in 90 Test wins, and he is also the first bowler to take more than 500 wickets in victories, almost 100 clear of the second-placed Glenn McGrath.

Most wickets in Test wins
Bowler Tests Wickets Average 5WI/ 10WM
Shane Warne 90 501 22.52 26/ 7
Glenn McGrath 82 406 19.15 18/ 3
Muttiah Muralitharan 42 347 15.51 33/ 15
Anil Kumble 38 261 18.36 20/ 5
Malcolm Marshall 43 254 16.78 17/ 4
Courtney Walsh 52 239 19.72 10/ 2
Curtly Ambrose 44 229 16.86 13/ 3
Waqar Younis 39 222 18.20 14/ 4
Wasim Akram 41 211 18.48 13/ 2

Over the course of so many battles Warne has had many batsmen he can claim to be his bunnies - Daryll Cullinan readily comes to mind, but there are plenty of others as well. The table below lists the batsmen who have lost more of their encounters against him. It's quite fitting that Strauss became his 700th victim: Warne has now nailed him eight times, conceding a paltry 17.75 runs per dismissal. For a full list of batsmen who have fallen to Warne most often, click here.

Batsmen who have struggled against Warne (since May 2001, at least 200 balls faced)
Batsman Balls Runs Dismissals Average
Ashwell Prince 466 164 11 14.90
Andrew Strauss 239 142 8 17.75
Marcus Trescothick 218 146 8 18.25
Mark Boucher 417 219 9 24.33
Herschelle Gibbs 347 166 6 27.67
Jacques Rudolph 260 114 4 28.50
Ian Bell 353 144 5 28.80

On the other hand, there are a few who have stood up to the Warne challenge rather well over the years, the most recent being Kevin Pietersen. Here're the names of the select group who can honestly claim to have had the upper hand in their battles against arguably the finest legspinner the game has seen.

Batsmen who have scored against Warne (Since May 2001, at least 200 balls faced)
Batsmen Balls Runs Dismissals Average
Gary Kirsten 238 128 1 128.00
Shaun Pollock 252 172 2 86.00
Kevin Pietersen 463 288 4 72.00
Nathan Astle 334 141 2 70.50
Paul Collingwood 263 134 2 67.00
Stephen Fleming 294 125 2 62.50
Jacques Kallis 550 280 5 56.00

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo