Australia’s Glenn McGrath is the highest wicket-taker in the history of the ODI Cricket World Cup with 71 wickets in 39 matches. McGrath was a part of the Australian side that won three consecutive World Cups in 1999, 2003, and 2007.
The limited format of cricket is often overshadowed by batters. Even in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023, batters are taking almost all of the limelight. However, the role that bowlers play is instrumental, and successful World Cup campaigns are built on the back of strong bowling units, as is the case with Australia, India, and the West Indies.
Here, we’ll discuss the highest wicket-takers in ICC ODI World Cup history:
Highest wicket-takers in ODI World Cups:
|Player||Country||Career Span||World Cup matches||World Cup wickets|
|Glenn McGrath||Australia||1996 – 2007||39||71|
|Muttiah Muralitharan||Sri Lanka||1996 – 2011||40||68|
|Lasith Malinga||Sri Lanka||2007 – 2019||29||56|
|Wasim Akram||Pakistan||1987 – 2003||38||55|
|Mitchell Starc||Australia||2015 – 2023||21||54|
|Chaminda Vaas||Sri Lanka||1996 – 2007||31||49|
|Zaheer Khan||India||2003 – 2011||23||44|
|Trent Boult||New Zealand||2015 – 2023||23||44|
|Javagal Srinath||India||1992 – 2003||34||44|
|Imran Tahir||South Africa||2011 – 2019||22||40|
Glenn McGrath, Australia | 71 wickets
Glenn McGrath has taken the most wickets in ODI World Cup history. The legendary Australian pace bowler has also been immensely successful in this competition. McGrath has been an integral part of the Australian side that won three consecutive ICC Cricket World Cups in 1999, 2003, and 2007.
McGrath picked up 71 wickets in 39 matches in his World Cup career. He had a spectacular bowling average of 18.19 – only compatriot Mitchell Starc has a better bowling average in the top 10. McGrath also has the second-best economy rate of 3.96 and has even taken two five-wicket hauls. He also holds the record for the best bowling figures in World Cup history when he registered a spell of 7/15 to stun Namibia in 2003. He was also the Player of the Tournament at the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in West Indies.
Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka | 68 wickets
Muttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket-taker in ODIs and therefore, it comes as little surprise that the Sri Lankan magician also finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in ICC Cricket World Cup history. With 68 wickets in 40 matches, Muralitharan has the best economy rate among anyone in the top 10 at 3.88 runs per over.
He has also claimed four four-wicket hauls, joint-most with Shane Warne and Imran Tahir. Muralitharan was also part of the Sri Lankan team that won the 1996 Cricket World Cup. Murali is also the leading wicket-taker in Tests.
Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka | 56 wickets
Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga is next on the list with a tally of 56 wickets in just 29 games. Malinga has appeared in four World Cups between 2007 and 2019. He made World Cup history by taking four wickets in four balls against South Africa in 2007. ‘Slinga’ dismissed Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, and Makhaya Ntini in successive deliveries to become the only bowler to achieve this incredible feat at this level.
Malinga has a bowling average of 22.87 in this competition and also has a five-wicket haul to his name. Despite his individual success, he has never been able to win the World Cup with Sri Lanka and the runners-up medal was their best finish at the 2011 Cricket World Cup in India.
Wasim Akram, Pakistan | 55 wickets
Wasim Akram is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in Cricket World Cups. He had an impressive ODI career and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker of all time after Muttiah Muralitharan. In World Cups, though, the legendary pace bowler has taken 55 wickets in 38 matches.
The Sultan of Swing won the 1992 Cricket World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand where he finished as the top wicket-taker with 18 dismissals.
Mitchell Starc, Australia | 54 wickets
Australia’s Mitchell Starc is the top wicket-taker among active cricketers. He played a monumental role in Australia winning the World Cup in his debut campaign on home soil. Starc was adjudged the Player of the Tournament and also finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker in that tournament with 22 scalps.
Starc has had a glittering One Day career. Even in World Cups, he has the best bowling average (15.79) in the top 10. He has also registered an economy rate of 4.65. He has three four-wicket hauls and three five-wicket hauls to his name. His best figures in this tournament are 6/28.
Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lanka | 49 wickets
Chaminda Vaas is the sixth-highest on the wicket-takers’ list. The Sri Lankan bowler has played 31 matches and he has taken 49 wickets. He holds the record for the best bowling figures in ODI history with a spell of 8/19 against Zimbabwe in 2001 and is the only bowler to have taken eight wickets in a single innings in this format.
Vaas was also the first bowler from Sri Lanka to take a hat-trick in the One Day format and also at the Cricket World Cup, which he did against Bangladesh in 2003. His World Cup hat-trick was also the first one taken during the first three deliveries of an innings.
Zaheer Khan, India | 44 wickets
One of the best fast bowlers in Indian cricket history, Zaheer Khan has a wonderful record in this competition. Having played only 23 World Cup games, he has registered 44 dismissals with a wonderful average of 20.22. He was one of the key members of India’s successful Cricket World Cup campaign on home soil in 2011 where he led the Indian pace attack with 21 wickets in just nine games. Zaheer Khan has played three World Cups between 2003 and 2011 and he finished as the joint highest wicket-taker along with Shahid Afridi in 2011.
Trent Boult, New Zealand | 44 wickets
After Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult is the only active bowler on this list who is also taking part in the 2023 Cricket World Cup. The New Zealand left arm pacer burst on to the scene in his debut World Cup appearance in 2015, where the Black Caps finished as the runners-up to Australia. Boult had taken 22 wickets in that tournament – finishing on top with Starc.
He finished runners-up in 2019 once again with New Zealand where he claimed 17 wickets in 10 games. It was in that tournament where he became the first bowler from the island nation to take a hat-trick at the Cricket World Cup.
Javagal Srinath, India | 44 wickets
Javagal Srinath is another decorated fast bowler from India who was one of the best of his generation. He’s tied on 44 wickets with Zaheer and Boult, but is lower on the list because of the number of matches he has played – Srinath has played 44 games compared to the 23 matches of the former.
He is India’s second highest wicket-taker in One Day cricket after Anil Kumble. He has played four World Cups between 1992 and 2003.
Imran Tahir, South Africa | 40 wickets
Imran Tahir rounds off the list with 40 wickets in 22 games. Having retired from international cricket recently, Tahir has been a valuable asset for the South African bowling unit over the years. He holds the record of being the first South African to take seven wickets in an ODI game and is also the leading wicket-taker for the country in both ODIs and T20Is.
Having participated in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Tahir also holds the record for being the oldest South African cricketer to take part in this competition. He is also the first spinner to bowl the opening over of a World Cup game. He retired from international cricket after South Africa’s group stage exit at the 2019 World Cup.
Who was the highest wicket-taker of the 2011 Cricket World Cup?
Zaheer Khan and Shahid Afridi, with 21 wickets each, were the joint highest wicket-takers of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Who has claimed the most wickets in ODI World Cup for India?
Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath hold the record for the most ODI World Cup wickets for India. They have both taken 44 wickets.
Who has the most wickets in T20 World Cup history?
With 47 wickets in 36 matches, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan is the highest wicket-taker in T20 World Cups.