Legspinner's progression to 500 wickets March 11, 2006

Kumble storms into the 500-wicket club

Kumble's progression to 500 wickets



Anil Kumble - Second-fastest to the 500 mark © AFP

Three months ago, Anil Kumble became the second Indian bowler, after Kapil Dev, to play 100 Tests. Today he became the first to take 500 Test wickets, and joins Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh in an exclusive club.

In a country that worships stellar batsmen, Kumble's matchwinning exploits are soon forgotten and unfavourable comparisons are made with other leading bowlers. But the fact is that Kumble, in his 105th Test, is the second-fastest to the 500 mark in terms of matches played, ahead of Warne, McGrath and Walsh. The only bowler to do it in fewer matches is Murali, who achieved the feat in 87 Tests.

Quickest to 500 wickets
Bowler Matches Overs Wickets Avg/SR
Muttiah Muralitharan 87 4970 505 22.89/59.0
Anil Kumble 105* 5493.1 501 28.87/65.7
Glenn McGrath 110 4286.4 509 21.01/50.6
Shane Warne 108 5037.1 501 25.51/60.3
Courtney Walsh 129 4835.1 504 24.56/57.5
*Includes the first innings of his 105th Test

As a matchwinning bowler, Kumble is unparalleled in India. The number of wickets he has in Tests that the team has won is nearly double that of Harbhajan Singh, his closest competitor. Twenty-seven of his 31 five-fors and all eight of his ten-wicket hauls have come in matches that India have either drawn or won.

Most wickets in Indian Test wins
Bowler Matches won Wickets Avg/SR
Anil Kumble 35 240 18.67/ 45.77
Harbhajan Singh 22 122 20.55/ 48.81
BS Chandrasekhar 14 98 19.27/ 45.41
Bishan Singh Bedi 17 97 17.65/ 54.03
Kapil Dev 24 90 18.3/ 45.27
When Kumble first burst on to the scene, opposition batsmen weren't used to his unique style of bowling - his first 100 wickets came in quick time, at a superb average of 24. As the batsmen gradually got the measure of his bowling, the wickets became harder to accumulate - his next 100 wickets took him 26 matches. Since then, though, he has got them at a pretty quick rate, and now averages 4.77 wickets per Test.

Cumulative progression of Kumble's wickets
Wickets Taken in Test no. Average at the time 5w/10w
0-108 21 24.35 6/1
- 204 47 28.07 11/1
- 300 66 28.04 18/4
- 402 85 28.41 24/5
- 501 105 28.87 32/8

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo