In numbers: Most first-class wickets among active cricketers


Already on top of the list for most first-class wickets among active cricketers, England great James Anderson on Monday (July 5) bagged another amazing milestone in his illustrious career as he took his tally to a jaw-dropping 1000 scalps.

Anderson pulled off the remarkable feat playing for Lancashire against Kent in the ongoing County Championship season at the Old Trafford ground in Manchester.

The ace swing and seam bowler reinforced his dominance in familiar conditions and ran through the Kent batting line-up. He dismissed Zak Crawley, Jordon Cox, Oliver Robinson, Jack Leaning, Heino Kuhn, Matt Milnes, and Harry Podmore, with Kuhn’s being the milestone wicket.

James Anderson ended with fantastic figures of 7/19 and helped Lancashire bundle out Kent for a paltry score of just 74. Along the way, Anderson also took his 50th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket and now has 1002 scalps to his name at an average of just over 24.

It was another remarkable feat in Anderson’s celebrated career where he is seemingly going stronger with age. The 38-year-old quick is also England’s highest ever Test wicket-taker with 617 scalps and their most capped Test cricketer with 162 matches.

With James Anderson being on top of the mountain, below is the list of other active bowlers with most first-class wickets to their name.

Most first-class wickets

James Anderson has most first-class wickets to his name among active cricketers

Broad, Wagner among bowlers with most first-class wickets after James Anderson

Tim Murtagh

Former Ireland medium pacer Tim Murtagh, who continues to ply his trade in county cricket for Middlesex, is the closest to Anderson among active bowlers with most first-class wickets. Murtagh has taken 869 wickets from 243 first-class matches in his career so far. The 39-year-old right-arm medium pacer has been a very fine exponent of swing and seam bowling over the years.

Stuart Broad

Broad, Anderson’s longstanding new-ball partner, is third in the list with 836 first-class wickets to his name at an average of just over 26 from 237 matches. A tall right-arm quick known some memorable spells in Test cricket where he has run through sides, Broad has also picked up 523 wickets for England – which is behind only Anderson – from 148 games at 27.72.

Dilruwan Perera

Sri Lanka off-spinner Dilruwan Perera is up next with 808 wickets to his name in first-class cricket from 224 matches at 26.47. Perera has over the years exploited the spin-friendly surfaces used in Sri Lankan domestic scene to great effect and has troubled many batting line-ups. His first-class career tally includes 42 five-wicket hauls and four ten-wicket hauls. He remains integral to Sri Lanka’s Test side and has played 43 matches for the Island nation with 161 scalps.

Malinda Pushpakumara

Fifth in the list for most first-class wickets is another Sri Lankan tweaker, left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara, who has 793 scalps to his name from 139 games at an average of just 20.03. On dry and turning pitches used in the Island nation, Pushpakumara has proven lethal for opposition batsmen and has built a significant first-class career for himself.

Neil Wagner

An integral and dynamic part of New Zealand’s prominent pace quartet at the highest level, left-arm quick Neil Wagner, is next with 762 wickets from 184 matches at 26.65 runs per piece. Wagner, who started off as a prodigious in and out swing bowler, has over the years developed into an unorthodox paceman. Wagner gets batsmen out of their comfort zone using a barrage of well-directed bouncers from different crease angles and triggers their departure employing unique field settings.

Simon Harmer

Since bringing a premature halt to his Test career for South Africa by signing a Kolpak deal with Essex, Harmer has been taking a bagful of wickets in first-class cricket via county cricket. Harmer has now made 684 scalps at an average of 27.02 from 160 matches, including 40 five-wicket hauls and nine ten-fers for the match. The off-spinner doesn’t just pose a wicket-taking threat but has also been a very disciplined operator, with an economy rate of only 2.86.

Gayan Sirisoma

Up next is another Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Gayan Sirisoma, who has had a very productive first-class career without ever getting the higher recognition to represent his country. Sirisoma, 39, has taken 679 wickets at the first-class level from 123 matches at an average of just 19.05. His tally includes as many as 61 five-wicket hauls and 24 instances of him taking 10 wickets in the match.

Peter Siddle

An aggressive right-arm quick who hustled through the crease all day, Australia’s Peter Siddle is last but certainly not the least here. Siddle, who bid farewell to Test cricket back in 2019, remains an active first-class cricketer in the County Championship for Essex. He boasts of 655 wickets at the first-class level from 191 matches at an average of 26.82, a tally glint with 25 five-wicket hauls.

A cricket writer by heart and profession. Currently at work for CricXtasy. Previously with Circle of Cricket. You can find him on Twitter @crickashish217