Alongside one of India’s greatest cricketers Kapil Dev, the top position is shared by the home team’s most successful ever off-spinner Nathan Lyon to give it a perfect blend of youth, experience, pace and spin. To Lyon’s credit, he is the only active player on this list.
Three of the bowlers on the list in fact are spinners, with Indian legends Anil Kumble and Bishan Singh Bedi being the other two. It speaks volumes about the presence of Lyon in the mix, especially when you don’t find the name of Shane Warne in the top five.
Besides Kapil, Australia’s former pace spearhead Brett Lee represents the fast bowlers on the list of highest wicket-takers in Tests played between India and Australia in Australia.
Here’s a lowdown on all five of them:
Breaking Richard Hadlee’s record, Kapil Dev took over the mantle of the world’s leading wicket-taker at that time, before bidding goodbye to the game shortly thereafter with a tally of 434 Test scalps in 131 Tests. But as far as his exploits in the Test whites on tours of Australia are concerned, the most vivid of memories takes you back to the 1981 Melbourne Test. In one of the best performances of his career, Kapil’s five-wicket haul (5/28) in Australia’s second innings led India’s charge to bundle out the hosts for a mere 83 runs. Despite carrying a niggle, Kapil bowled his heart out to help the Sunil Gavaskar-led Indian team win and as a result draw a Test series (1-1) Down Under for the first time. In all, the bowling all-rounder and 1983 World Cup winning captain played 11 Tests in Australia, taking 51 wickets.
From being a member of the ground staff in Canberra to Australia’s leading off-spinner, Nathan Lyon’s journey is nothing short of a fairytale. After his Test debut in 2011, over the next five years, Lyon went on to register his name as the best off-spinner produced by Australia, when, in 2015, his 142nd wicket took him past Hugh Trumble. Poised to play his 100th Test and reach the milestone of 400 Test wickets in the upcoming series against India, Lyon’s aggregate of Test victims currently reads an impressive 390 in 96 matches. Filtering it down to the Tests against India in Australia, Lyon matches Kapil’s numbers with 51 wickets in 11 Tests. Among the finest of Lyon’s memories against India is the Adelaide Test of 2014-15, when he bowled the hosts to a victory in the fourth innings with his spell of 7/152.
Be it his historic feat of all-10 in the 1999 Delhi Test against Pakistan or the sight of him bowling with a bandaged jaw in Antigua, Anil Kumble has been one of the biggest match-winners produced by India, besides being one of the best leg-spinners to ever play the game. In Australia, along with his five wickets in the hosts’ first innings of the 2003 Adelaide Test, Kumble’s commanding role as skipper on the 2008 tour (infamous for the ‘Monkeygate’ row) will always remain fresh in the memory of fans. The leg-spinner, who finished his career with a staggering 619 wickets in 132 Tests, ended that controversial tour of Australia with 20 wickets in the four-Test series, which was the best among Indian bowlers. He played 10 Tests in Australia altogether and took 49 wickets.
Before retiring from international cricket in 2012, Brett Lee achieved the milestone of 300 wickets and finished with a final tally of 310 wickets in 76 matches. Considered as one of the most complete express bowlers to play the game, Lee managed to do justice to the tag of Australia’s pace spearhead after taking over from Glenn McGrath. The proof of that lies in the fact that he is the most successful Australian pacer against India in Tests played at home, with a prolific haul of 45 wickets in eight matches.
BISHAN SINGH BEDI
His action was considered poetry in motion and to achieve what he did with his left-arm spin on uncovered pitches overseas in that era, has very few parallels in the history of the game. In seven Tests against the Aussies in their den, Bishan Singh Bedi took 35 wickets while being part of the famous spin quartet with Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Ventakaraghavan. His wicket-taking consistency is reflected in the 1560 first-class wickets he finished with, apart from 266 in 67 Tests.