Top five best bowling average in Test history

The best bowlers we know in world cricket aren't surprisingly the ones with the best bowling average in Test history. We dig into the numbers to pick out the top five in this elite list.

Jasprit Bumrah has been outstanding for India in the recent past in Test cricket, having provided his team with crucial breakthroughs at critical junctures of matches. Bumrah recently showed his class in the second Test of the five-match series against the Ben Stokes-led England at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.

In the first innings of the Test match, Bumrah finished with figures of 15.5-5-45-6. He picked up the wickets of Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Tom Hartley, and James Anderson.

Bumrah reveals favourite wicket in Vizag Test

Bumrah made sure that India took a massive lead of 143 runs in their first innings. During this while, he also reached the landmark of 150 wickets in Test cricket. He became the fourth fastest India after Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Anil Kumble to reach the 150-wicket mark in the purest format of the game.

Not only does Bumrah pick up wickets, but makes sure that he does not give away a whole lot of runs. The speedster shows immense accuracy to keep batters on their toes. He has suffered from injuries in the last two years, but he has not let it affect his performance.  

Best bowling average Jasprit Bumrah
Photo by Icon Sport

Bowlers with the best bowling average in Test cricket (150 plus wickets)

Sydney Barnes

Former England fast bowler Sydney Barnes holds the record of the best bowling average for bowlers with above 150 wickets in Test cricket. The right-arm pacer picked up 189 wickets from 27 matches at an incredible average of 16.43. He also went on to take 24 five-wicket hauls and seven 10-wicket hauls in his illustrious career.

Barnes made his Test debut back in 1901 against Australia at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground. He went on to play 14 years until he last donned the English jersey against South Africa in Durban.

Back in 1913, Barnes got his best figures of 38.4-7-103-9 against the Proteas at the Old Wanderers in Johannesburg. He also accounted for two 8-wicket hauls versus South Africa.

Against South Africa, Barnes picked up 83 wickets from seven matches at an average of 9.85 with 12 five-wicket hauls and six 10-wicket hauls.

Against Australia, Barnes took 106 wickets from 20 matches at an average of 21.58.

Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah has been a genuine wicket-taker for India in Test cricket since he forayed into Test cricket back in 2018 on the tour of South Africa. In 64 innings from 34 matches, the pacer picked up 152 wickets at an incredible average of 20.28 with 10 five-wicket hauls to show for his efforts.

In the Vizag Test against England, Bumrah showed what he is capable of. He bowled with venom and made sure that he put the Indian team in a position of command.

Over, Bumrah is fond of bowling against England, having taken 53 wickets from 12 matches at an average of 21.18 with three five-wicket hauls.

Bumrah is one of the three Indian bowlers along with Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan to pick up a hat-trick. The pacer accomplished the feat when India toured the West Indies back in 2019.

Bumrah recently won the Player of the Match award when India toured South Africa. He picked up 12 wickets and finished as the leading wicket-taker with a four-wicket haul and a five-wicket haul to his name.

Back in August 2019, Bumrah got his best Test figures of 12.1-3-27-6 against the Caribbean team at Kingston, Jamaica. He also has four six-wicket hauls to his name and that shows how devastating he has been thus far in his career.

Alan Davidson

Australia’s Alan Davidson played 10 years from 1953 to 1963 and he did not let his team down. In 44 Tests, the left-arm fast bowler picked up 186 wickets at a stupendous average of 20.53 with 14 five-wicket hauls and 2 four-wicket hauls to his name.

Back in June 1953, Davidson made his debut against England at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham. The southpaw played his last Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

He got his best figures of 57.3-6-93-7 against India in Kanpur back in December 1959. Davidson enjoyed bowling against England as he picked up 84 wickets from 25 matches at an average of 23.76 with five five-wicket hauls.

Apart from being a world-class bowler, Davidson was more than handy with the bat in hand. He scored 1328 runs from 44 matches at an average of 24.59 with five half-centuries to his name. He got his top score of 80 against the West Indies back in December 1960 in Brisbane.

Malcolm Marshall

Malcolm Marshall used to terrorize batters with his ability to generate serious pace. Despite being short in stature, the right-arm fast bowler bowled with a lot of venom with aggression being his USP. The West Indies made regular inroads into the opposition batting lineups.

In 81 Tests, Marshall picked up 376 wickets at an average of 20.94 with 22 four-wicket hauls and four five-wicket hauls to his name. Marshall is also third in the list of most wickets taken by a Caribbean in Test cricket. Courtney Walsh leads the charts with 519 wickets followed by Curtly Ambrose, who accounted for 405 wickets from 98 matches.

Marshall enjoyed the most bowling against England after he picked up 127 wickets from 26 matches at an average of 19.18 with six five-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul to his name.

Bumrah best bowling averages
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Joel Garner

Joel Garner was one of the fiercest fast bowlers West Indies ever produced in their cricketing history. In 58 Tests, the right-arm pacer picked up 259 wickets at an average of 20.97 with seven five-wicket hauls to his name. Garner played international cricket from 1977 to 1987 and he built a reputation for being a brute force with the ball in hand.

Garner got his best figures of 36.2-15-56-6 against New Zealand back in February 1980 in Auckland. The speedster had incredible records against England and Australia, picking up 92 and 89 wickets respectively.  


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India