They say batters win you matches, but bowlers win you tournaments. And this statement holds for every successful World Cup campaign over the years. The champion sides have had bowlers who could dismantle any opposition and break partnerships with ease. This article looks at the top 5 highest wicket-takers in the World Cup overall.
#5 Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
Pakistan’s knack for producing top-notch fast bowlers is not hidden from anyone. One of the finest bowlers from that factory has been the left-arm swing bowler Wasim Akram. The reverse swing genius bamboozled batters and sent the stumps flying with his skills innumerable times.
Featuring in 38 World Cup matches between 1987 and 2003, Wasim scalped 55 wickets at an average of 23.83. He was the leading wicket-taker in the 1992 edition, the year Pakistan clinched their first World Cup victory.
#4 Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
Lasith Malinga made batters worldwide dance to his tunes with his unorthodox round-arm action. He could nail yorkers at will and his uncanny actions made him unplayable.
In 29 matches (2007-2019), Malinga picked 56 wickets, with one fifer to his name. In one of the most memorable World Cup performances, he breezed past South Africa’s middle and lower middle order in 2007, claiming four wickets in four balls.
Although the Proteas won the match by one wicket, Malinga made the Lankans believe. And almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the island nation.
#3 Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Mitchell Starc is another left-arm quick to make this list of highest wicket-takers in World Cup history. He has captured 59 wickets in 26 matches (and counting), with three five-wicket hauls to his name.
Starc’s World Cup debut happened in 2015, and in his first year, he returned with 22 wickets. And the result? The Aussies became five-time champions–sheer domination at the highest level.
In his third World Cup appearance (2023), Starc continues to add to his tally. And he has achieved a unique distinction–26 (and counting) wickets have come by shattering the batter’s stumps (bowled).
#2 Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Muttiah Muralitharan is the only spin bowler to make this list, with a staggering 68 wickets. A legendary off-spinner who had both supporters and naysayers for his unorthodox action, Murali led the Lankan bowling attack in 40 World Cup games.
He was an integral part of the Arjuna Ranatunga-led World Cup-winning side in 1996. His invaluable contributions also allowed Lanka to reach the finals of the quadrennial tournament in 2007 and 2011.
#1 Glenn McGrath (Australia)
Sitting at the pinnacle of glory is the Australian Glenn McGrath, with 71 wickets in 39 matches.
Arguably the greatest Aussie speedster of all time, McGrath troubled the batters with his relentless accuracy. Keeping the ball in the channel outside off, he orchestrated dismissals by inducing edges or finding the gap between bat and pad.
McGrath was instrumental in Aussies claiming a hattrick of World Cup wins in 1999, 2003, and 2007.