“Must be....it is! What a moment for Stuart Broad. Into the gallery of greats he goes!”
Michael Atherton, former England captain, summed it up perfectly on air. Only seven men in the history of Test cricket have reached 500 Test wickets. That, in itself, tells you how rare an achievement it is.
Broad, on Tuesday, became the seventh bowler to take 500 Test wickets when he reached the landmark by dismissing the West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite at Old Trafford.
Leading wicket-takers in Test cricket
|M Muralitharan (ICC/SL)||133||230||800||9/51||16/220||22.72||2.47||55.0||67||22|
|SK Warne (AUS)||145||273||708||8/71||12/128||25.41||2.65||57.4||37||10|
|A Kumble (INDIA)||132||236||619||10/74||14/149||29.65||2.69||65.9||35||8|
|JM Anderson (ENG)||153*||286||589||7/42||11/71||26.85||2.86||56.2||28||3|
|GD McGrath (AUS)||124||243||563||8/24||10/27||21.64||2.49||51.9||29||3|
|CA Walsh (WI)||132||242||519||7/37||13/55||24.44||2.53||57.8||22||3|
|SCJ Broad (ENG)||140*||258||500||8/15||11/121||27.99||2.95||56.8||18||2|
|DW Steyn (SA)||93||171||439||7/51||11/60||22.95||3.24||42.3||26||5|
|N Kapil Dev (INDIA)||131||227||434||9/83||11/146||29.64||2.78||63.9||23||2|
|HMRKB Herath (SL)||93||170||433||9/127||14/184||28.07||2.80||60.0||34||9|
As is clear from the table above, longevity as a bowler is unarguably easier as a spinner. It is even more incredible to see pacers play Test cricket for a long enough time to be able to pick up 500 wickets.
Interestingly enough the first man to do it was a pacer himself.
The first member of the elite 500 club was West Indies great Courtney Walsh, when he reached the milestone against South Africa in *2001. In the second Test between West Indies and South Africa in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Walsh dismissed Gary Kirsten (caught behind) to pick up his 499th wicket. Two balls later, he trapped Jacques Kallis in front to create history.
Following Walsh, arguably the greatest pacer the game has seen: Glenn McGrath.
And the man for big occasions made it into the club during the epic 2005 Ashes series.
McGrath became only the fourth bowler in history to take 500 Test wickets when he had Marcus Trescothick caught by Justin Langer at third slip for four on the first ball after tea on the first day of the first Test against England at Lord’s.
McGrath joined team-mate Shane Warne, also playing in that match, Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and Walsh.
The Aussie pacer’s 500th was also part of an incredible spell at Lord’s when he ripped through England’s batting lineup on the first day of what would go on to be one of the greatest Test series of all time. As ESPNCricinfo reported, “In 30 balls he peppered the slip cordon and the stumps in collecting a breath-taking, momentum-changing 5 for 2. McGrath had waited since March to step off 499 and by the end of the day was enjoying the view from 504 with his 27th five-wicket haul.”
The third pacer in the 500 club is now also leading the pack behind the three legendary spinners.
Incidentally, Brathwaite was also the batsman dismissed when Anderson, Broad’s longstanding England new-ball colleague, took his 500th Test wicket. It happened at Lord’s against West Indies in 2017.
“The emotion took me by surprise a bit. The emotions I normally go through during a game are anger and more anger. But today was a bit more… I wasn’t teary. But it was emotional. I don’t normally get like that during a game. But I got my focus back after a couple of overs,” Anderson had said.
“I can’t quite believe I’ve taken this many wickets or played this much cricket,” Anderson said. “For a while I was just trying to get back on the park. They were dark times. I’d had a taste of international cricket and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
“But I knew I had the skills and I used to be able to bowl fast. And going through those periods made me stronger. It’s made me stronger as a person and a cricketer. It just made me more determined to improve. I think a lot of players go through periods like that, whether it’s from form or injury. I probably wouldn’t be the bowler I am today without toiling for that period of time.”
And finally, the most recent member of the club: Stuart Broad.
Broad, controversially omitted from the England side that lost the first Test at Southampton by four wickets, has roared back. As Atherton said, he has shown in this series that he still has the fire in his belly.
Broad had already taken 6/31 in West Indies’ meagre first innings 197 made in reply to England’s 369. He had also scored a dashing 62 runs in that innings, batting at No 10.
Bonus viewing: The moments Anil Kumble and Shane Warne entered the 500 club.
Correction: The article originally said 2002, instead of 2001, for Walsh’s 500th wicket.