HomeSportsCricketRevisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History: Spellbinding Performances
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Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History: Spellbinding Performances

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In the realm of Test cricket, where matches unfold over five days of intense competition, there exist moments of pure brilliance that transcend the sport itself. These moments often come in the form of extraordinary bowling spells, where bowlers unleash their full arsenal of skills to leave an indelible mark on the game. The history of Test cricket is replete with instances where bowlers have single-handedly turned the match with their masterful bowling. In this blog, we’ll uncover the top 10 Best bowling spells in Test cricket.

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Top 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test cricket  Players Bowling Figures Opposition 
1 Jim Laker 10 for 53 Australia
2 Anil Kumble 10 for 74 Pakistan
3 Ajaz Patel 10 for 119 India 
4 Richard Hadlee 9 for 52  Australia 
5 Hugh Tayfield 9 for 113  England
6 Bob Willis 8 for 43 Australia
7 Muttiah Muralitharan 8 for 70 England
8 Stuart Broad 8 for 15 England
9 Shane Warne  8 for 71 England 
10 Curtly Ambrose  7 for 25 Australia

Jim Laker (10 for 53 against Australia)

Jim Laker - Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History | KreedOn
Image Source: PA Photos

Laker’s impressive performance didn’t receive a higher rating because the Australian batting wasn’t very strong. However, Laker’s accuracy was outstanding, conceding just about one run per over. What’s astonishing is that despite Tony Lock bowling more overs at 55 and other bowlers bowling a total of 44 overs, none of them managed to dismiss any Australian batsman. But Jim Laker produced one of the all-time greatest spells of test cricket with 10/53 in an inning which is still the best bowling figure in test cricket.

Anil Kumble (10 for 74 against Pakistan)

Anil Kumble - Best Test Bowling | KreedOn
Image Source: Associated Press

In a match in Delhi, India made a modest score of 252 runs in their first innings, which didn’t seem like much against a strong Pakistan team. But Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowled really well, making Pakistan struggle to reach just 172 runs. This gave India a lead of 80 runs. Pakistan then had to chase over 400 runs to win the Test match.

In the final inning, Kumble was the star. Although Pakistan started well, with a score of 101 without losing any wickets, Kumble turned the game around. He took wickets one after another, and soon Pakistan was in trouble. The match was played on a pitch that favored bowlers, and the pressure was on Pakistan to chase a huge target, something that had never been done before in Test cricket. Anil Kumble picked up 10 wickets in that match and guided India to a memorable victory.

Ajaz Patel (10 for 119 against India)

Ajaz Patel - Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History | KreedOn
Image Source: BCCI

Ajaz Patel made history in Test cricket by claiming a memorable 10-wicket haul during a match against India in Mumbai. This remarkable feat underscores Patel’s exceptional skill and composure under pressure, solidifying his reputation as a formidable spinner. Joining the elite ranks of cricketers who have achieved such a milestone, Patel’s performance is celebrated as a testament to his dedication and talent on the field.

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Richard Hadlee (9 for 52 against Australia)

Richard Hadlee - Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History | KreedOn
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In his incredible performance of taking nine wickets for 52 runs, Hadlee dismissed Andrew Hilditch for 0, Allan Border for 1, Greg Ritchie for 8, and Greg Matthews for 2. He also managed to dismiss each of the three batsmen who surpassed 30, just when they seemed to be rescuing Australia from a difficult situation. Despite Australia not being particularly strong at that time, this victory was significant as it was an away match in a country where New Zealand hadn’t historically performed well.

Hugh Tayfield (9 for 113 against England)

Hugh Tayfield | KreedOn
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In one of the greatest series ever, England surprised everyone by winning the first two Tests against South Africa, with the third ending in a draw. South Africa needed to win the fourth match to stay in contention. Tayfield led South Africa’s bowling attack in the first inning, securing a lead of 89 runs. However, England restricted them to 142.

Chasing 232, England aggressively approached Tayfield’s bowling on the final day.Despite England’s promising start, Tayfield’s relentless bowling led to regular wickets, including key dismissals of Bailey, May, and Compton. Despite the challenging pitch, the Pitch Quality Index (PQI) value of 45.9 suggested it wasn’t entirely favorable for bowlers.

Bob Willis (8 for 43 against Australia)

Bob Willis | KreedOn
Image Source: Getty Images

Chasing 130, Australia was in trouble at 75 for 8, losing seven wickets for just 19 runs, with Willis taking six wickets. His spell of 8 for 43 turned a dire situation, even after Botham’s heroics, into a win. The match’s PQI of 42.7 suggested a close contest, slightly favoring bowlers and Bob Willis took full advantage to put one of the greatest spells in test cricket.

Muttiah Muralitharan (8 for 70 against England)

Muttiah Muralitharan - Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History | KreedOn
Image Source: Getty Images

England began their chase of 325 runs an hour into the fourth day, feeling confident with a score of 84 runs without losing any wickets. They had strong batsmen like Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, and Andrew Flintoff yet to bat, so the target didn’t seem too difficult. However, Murali, the bowler from Sri Lanka and the player with most wickets in TEst, changed the game.

Although the pitch was tough for batting, Murali managed to dismiss Cook, Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Flintoff, and Geraint Jones for low scores. People might compare this to Murali’s amazing performance eight years earlier in England, where he took nine wickets for 65 runs. The main difference is that England’s batting quality in 1998 wasn’t as good. Despite this, both of Murali’s performances are considered among the best in cricket history.

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Stuart Broad (8 for 15 against Australia)

Stuart Broad - Revisiting 10 Best Bowling Spells in Test Cricket History | KreedOn
Image Source: Getty Images

Alastair Cook made an unexpected decision to put Australia into bat after winning the toss. He might have hoped to see Australia at 80 for 3 by lunchtime, but what unfolded in the next two hours surpassed all expectations. Australia’s innings took a dramatic turn as they were bowled out for just 60 runs, the quickest first-inning dismissal in terms of balls faced.

The longest partnership was of 33 balls for the tenth wicket, and the highest individual contribution was only 13 runs, shared between the eighth and tenth batsmen. It’s a rare occurrence when extras outscore every batsman in an Australian innings. Stuart Broad played a pivotal role, bowling 57 balls, conceding just 15 runs off seven of them, and creating 50 dot balls, with eight leading to wickets.

Despite England posting a total of 391 runs, Australia’s low scores of 60 and 253 highlighted the bowler-friendly conditions of the Test match, with a Pitch Quality Index (PQI) value of 34.9 and England’s home advantage. While these factors slightly diminish the significance of Broad’s remarkable spell, its overall strength still places it among the top performances.

Shane Warne (8 for 71 against England)

Shane Warne | KreedOn
Image Source: Getty Images

Shane Warne, a cricketing legend, graced the Australian team for 15 years in international cricket, notably emerging as the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes series with 195 wickets from 36 matches. In 1994, his remarkable spell of 8/71 against England at the Gabba propelled Australia to a resounding victory by 184 runs, marking his best bowling performance in Test cricket. This memorable achievement underscored Warne’s immense skill and strategic prowess.

In the inaugural Test of the 1994–95 Ashes, Warne’s impact was pivotal, as he played a crucial role in dismissing England twice. Supported by teammates Michael Slater and Mark Waugh, Australia posted a formidable total of 426 runs in the first inning. Warne, alongside Craig McDermott, contributed significantly with the ball, claiming three wickets in the first innings and eight in the second, securing a memorable victory for Australia.

Curtly Ambrose (7 for 25 against Australia)

Curtly Ambrose | KreedOn
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With the series tied at 1-1, the final test was pivotal. Antiguan Curtly Ambrose‘s first-day brilliance, claiming seven wickets for just 25 runs, decided the series. Australia managed only 119 runs in their first inning, as Ambrose’s relentless bowling led the West Indies to victory on the third day.

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