James Anderson, on Tuesday, entered a league of his own as he became the first fast bowler in the history of the game to take 600 wickets in Test cricket.

The English pacer joined a trio of retired spinners – Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619) – in the exclusive 600 Test wickets club.

Kumble and Warne took to social media soon after Anderson achieved the milestone to congratulate the 38-year-old fast bowler.

“Congratulations @jimmy9 on your 600 wickets! Massive effort from a great fast bowler. Welcome to the club,” Kumble tweeted.

Former Australia leg-spinner Warne said it was a “proud moment” for the England bowler.

England’s greatest ever bowler: Reactions for James Anderson scaling Mount 600

While the 600 Test wickets club got its fourth member on Tuesday, there are seven players who have gone past the 500 wickets mark in the longest format. Interestingly, the top three bowlers on the list may be spinners but with Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh and Stuart Broad, along with Anderson, there are now more fast bowlers than spinners who have taken 500 wickets in Test cricket.

In the list of top-10 highest wicket-takers in Tests, there are six pacers and four spinners.

Most wickets in Test cricket

Player Mat Wkts Ave SR 5-fors 10-wm
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL) 133 800 22.72 55.0 67 22
S Warne (AUS) 145 708 25.41 57.4 37 10
A Kumble (INDIA) 132 619 29.65 65.9 35 8
J Anderson (ENG) 156 600 26.79 56.2 29 3
G McGrath (AUS) 124 563 21.64 51.9 29 3
C Walsh (WI) 132 519 24.44 57.8 22 3
S Broad (ENG) 143 514 27.65 56.4 18 3
D Steyn (SA) 93 439 22.95 42.3 26 5
N Kapil Dev (INDIA) 131 434 29.64 63.9 23 2
R Herath (SL) 93 433 28.07 60.0 34 9
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Anderson’s achievement has been 17 years and 156 matches in the making, a journey that started when he dismissed Zimbabwe’s Mark Vermeulen in 2003. The tributes for him have centered on the fact that he has got to 600 Test wickets despite being a fast bowler. With the wear and tear a pacer’s body goes through, it is indeed remarkable that the Englishman has played 156 Test matches and achieved everything he has.

All four of these greats who have scaled Mount 600 – Muralitharan, Warne, Kumble and Anderson – helped their respective teams to innumerable victories and sustained a high level throughout their lengthy journeys in international cricket.

Here’s a look at how they got wicket No 600 in Tests and what set them apart:

James Anderson

Anderson - home and away in Tests

Mat Inns Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10
home 63 115 350 10/74 14/149 24.88 2.51 59.4 25 7
away 69 121 269 8/141 12/279 35.85 2.88 74.5 10 1
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Anderson’s wait for his 600th wicket in Tests was a rather frustrating one, towards the end at least. Not many would have doubted him getting there in the just-concluded Test series against Pakistan but constant rain delays throughout meant he was kept on the edge till day five of the final match. The dropped catches (four of them in the second innings of the third Test) did not help. Given the lack of clarity on the Test match schedule in the near future, it might have been a tough period away from the game for Anderson if he was left stranded on 599. But he finally got to the magical figure on Tuesday by dismissing Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, with a delivery that climbed sharply, took the outside edge and was caught by England captain Joe Root in the slip cordon.

The right-arm pacer has been a consistent performer for his country ever since he made his debut in the longest format in 2003. Known for his ability to swing the ball both ways and maintain an immaculate line and length, Anderson has remained a vital cog in his team through his career. He may have lost some pace over the years but he more than made up for it with his disciplined bowling. An aspect that has been widely praised about Anderson is his skill with the ball, something his peer Dale Steyn hailed recently.


Anil Kumble

Kumble - home and away in Tests

Mat Inns Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10
home 63 115 350 10/74 14/149 24.88 2.51 59.4 25 7
away 69 121 269 8/141 12/279 35.85 2.88 74.5 10 1
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The former India leg-spinner achieved the milestone on January 17, 2008, during a match in Perth for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Kumble became the third player to take 600 wickets in Tests by dismissing Australian middle-order batsman Andrew Symonds. He got one to kick-on from a length and get the outside edge and while wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t hold on to the ball, the catch was completed by Kumble’s trusted ally Rahul Dravid in the slips. That it happened in one of India’s greatest away wins in Test cricket made it special for Kumble, who was the captain of the side at that time.

Kumble found most of his success in the sub-continent, especially at home in India, but he was mighty effective in every condition. He wasn’t an orthodox wrist spinner and relied more on his height, high arm action that helped in generate bounce and his fingers to get variations. The 49-year-old was India’s premier spinner for most of his 18 years in Test cricket and is regarded as one of the greatest match-winners.

Shane Warne

Warne - home and away in Tests

Mat Inns Mdns Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10
away 73 138 917 362 7/165 12/246 25.50 2.69 56.7 20 5
home 69 129 815 319 8/71 12/128 26.39 2.60 60.8 15 4
neutral 3 6 29 27 7/94 11/188 12.66 2.75 27.5 2 1
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The Australian legend was the first bowler to get to 600 Test wickets. And the moment was made even sweeter for him as it came in an Ashes Test. On August 11, 2005, the leg-spinner dismissed England’s Marcus Trescothick to create a stunning record. It was his 126th Test match and the venue was the Old Trafford in Manchester, where 12 years earlier he had cleaned-up Mike Gatting with ‘the ball of the century’.

Warne is considered by many to be the greatest spinner the game has ever seen. Admired for the simplicity of his action, his conventional style of bowling, and the manner in which he set up batsmen, Warne was Australia’s strike bowler for a decade and a half.

Muttiah Muralitharan

Murali - home and away in Tests

Mat Inns Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10
home 73 134 493 9/51 13/115 19.56 2.30 50.8 45 15
away 60 96 307 9/65 16/220 27.79 2.69 61.8 22 7
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The most successful bowler in the history of Test cricket by a fair distance, Muralitharan got his 600th wicket in the longest format in his 101st match in 2006. Sri Lanka were facing Bangladesh in Bogra and the off-spinner joined Warne in the 600 Test wickets club by getting rid of Khaled Mashud.

Having made his Test debut in 1992, the Sri Lankan went on to become one of the finest bowlers of his generation. His performances at home were incredible but his brilliant variations – which included the vicious top-spinner and doosra – meant he achieved success wherever he went. Controversies followed him through his career but did not deter Muralitharan from scaling the top of the bowling charts, finishing as the highest wicket-taker in the history of the game. He finished with exactly 800 wickets, a record unlikely to be beaten in the years to come.

Data check: Ten years on, Muttiah Muralitharan’s Test records are still a class apart