Over the years, the popularity of cricket has seen a northward trend. It is nothing less than a religion for some cricket-playing nations. Cricket owes its charm to the on-field flamboyance of batsmen and their impeccable shots. Bowlers, too, are the fulcrum of the game. A strong bowling line-up can be a great strength to the team. With time, the art of bowling has undergone various changes resulting in newer speed records. Young talents as well as the veteran bowlers add to the delight of fast bowling.
The world cricket has been endowed with some brilliant bowlers who have made a mark with a deadly combination of speed and precision. Let’s have a look at the top 10 fastest bowlers in the history of cricket:
Shoaib Akhtar: Also called the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, this Pakistani cricketer is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers of all time. He created a world record achieving the fastest delivery of 100.2 mph (161.3 km/h) in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 against England.
Brett Lee: Known for his pace and techniques, Australian fast bowler Brett Lee finds a respectable place in the list of world’s top fast bowlers. His fastest delivery of 160.8 km/h came against New Zealand in the 2005 bilateral series at Napier. He has taken 310 wickets in Test and 380 wickets in One day International. The 38-year-old announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket in 2012.
Shaun William Tait: This right-arm fast bowler plays in the T20 format at present. Also called “The Wild Thing”, Tait bowled a delivery measuring 160.7 km/h in a T20 match against Pakistan in 2010. It was the fastest bowl ever recorded in Australia. His fastest delivery of 161.1kph was against England at Lords in 2010 and is considered the second fastest after Shoaib Akhtar.
Dale Willem Steyn: This South African right-arm fast bowler usually bowls at a speed of 145-150 km/h. Dale Steyn bowled his fastest delivery of 156.2 km/h during the 2010 Indian Premier League (IPL). In international cricket, Steyn bowled a delivery at 155.7 km/h (96.8 mph) against New Zealand where he was adjudged the fastest bowler along with Lasith Malinga.
Lasith Malinga: With only one-of-its-kind round-arm action, the Sri Lankan fast bowler bowled his fastest delivery at 155.7 km/h against New Zealand in 2011 World Cup that was played in Mumbai.
Shane Bond: New Zealand’s best fast bowler, Bond is well equipped with pace, control and accuracy when it comes to fast bowling. All these qualities make him one of the top fast bowlers in the world of cricket. In the 2003 World Cup, the right-arm bowler’s fastest delivery was measured at 156.4 km/h.
Jeffery Robert Thomson: Considered as one of the formidable fast bowlers in cricket history, Jeff Thomson was also one of the most aggressive cricketers in the mid-1970s. He bowled his fastest delivery of 160.4km/h against West Indies in 1975.
Andy Roberts: Sir Andy Roberts is referred to as a brilliant fast bowler who twice captured 7 wickets in an innings of a Test match. He gave a new dimension to fast bowling when he delivered a ball at a speed of 159.5 km/h against Australia in Perth 1975.
Fidel Edwards: West Indian right-arm fast bowler, Edwards is also compared with Jeff Thomson for his similar round-arm bowling action. Edwards ascended in his bowling career when he bowled a delivery almost touching 100 miles per hour during a match against South Africa in 2003.
Mohammed Sami: He is a Pakistani right-arm fast bowler and also considered one of the top fastest bowlers behind Shoaib Akhtar. Recognised for his swift yorkers and pace, Sami is also the only bowler who took hat-tricks in all formats of the game. He bowled the fastest delivery of 156.4 km/h against Zimbabwe in 2003 in Sharjah.
Apart from the above top ten fast bowlers in the history of cricket, there are a few Indian bowlers who came close to that. Some of them still have the potential to join the league of the greatest bowlers. Javagal Srinath recorded 154.5 kmph in 1999 World Cup and became the quickest bowler. Ishant Sharma bowled at a speed of 152.6 kmph against Australia in 2008. Varun Aaron put up a good show in the 2014 India-Sri Lanka series as he delivered at a rate of 152.5 kmph making it the third fastest ball by an Indian bowler. Umesh Yadav almost touched 152.2 kmph during the ODI series in Sri Lanka. Ashish Nehra delivered a ball at the speed of 149.7 against Zimbabwe during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.