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Howzat?! The Fastest Pace Bowlers in the History of Cricket

Ball on grass

Ball on grass

There is something special about watching an elite-level fast bowler in action. The power the fastest bowlers generate through years of honing their actions is flabbergasting. Fast bowlers never fail to get the crowds on their feet, and there is no sight and sound like when a pace bowler smashes through the stumps, leaving the batsman wafting his bat in thin air. Howzat, indeed.

Although cricket fans often worship their team's fast bowlers, opposing batters despise them, and it is easy to see why. Imagine a bowler can deliver a ball at 90 miles per hour. Do you know how long the ball would take to travel from the bowler's arm to the batsman? What if we told you it was only 0.51 seconds? The batsman has half a second to position his feet, judge the ball's flight, and decide how and where to hit it. The fact they manage even to see the ball is incredible in its own right.

Every successful cricket team has a varied attack consisting of swing bowlers, spin specialists, and the dreaded fast bowlers. Those teams with the quickest and most accurate pace attack are often favorites to win or stage an epic comeback with bookmakers on mytopsportsbook.com. Over the years, many fast bowlers have made their mark on cricket at The Ashes, the Cricket World Cup, and international and county games worldwide. These are some of the deadliest fast bowlers ever to deliver a ball.


Frederick Spofforth - Australia


Frederick Spofforth was an Australian cricketer and one of the first fast bowlers. The pace and accuracy of his deliveries were so great that Spofforth earned the nickname "The Demon Bowler." Spofforth was the first-ever bowler to take 50 Test wickets and the first player to take a Test hat-trick.

Like many bowlers of his generation – Spofforth played in the 1870s – Spofforth bowled underarm lobs but quickly adopted his bowling style after watching England's fast bowlers on their tours of the colonies in the early 1860s.

Spofforth was instrumental in Australia winning the historic 1882 Ashes series. Having taken seven wickets for 46 runs in the first innings, Spofforth led the Australian attack against an England team requiring only 85 runs to win. He took seven wickets for only 44 runs in the second innings, allowing Australia to win by seven runs, and the Ashes series was born.

The pioneer of fast bowling died in 1926; he was 72.


Shoaib Akhtar - Pakistan

Pakistan's bowler Shoaib Akhtar

Pakistan's bowler Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar was a polarizing figure during his illustrious career. On the one hand, Akhtar was a brilliant bowler, capable of lightning-fast delivers. However, on the other, he was plagued with injuries, and controversies followed Akhtar around, including a performance-enhancing drug scandal in 2006. Think of Akhtar as you will, but there is no denying that "The Rawalpindi Express" was one of the world's fastest bowlers.

Akhtar took 178 Test, 247 ODI, and 19 T20 wickets during a career that spanned 13 years. The Pakistani right-hander was regarded as one of the world's fastest bowlers and confirmed that was the case during a 2003 World Cup game against England. With England 7–1, Akhtar delivered a ball that the recently installed speed trap cameras recorded at 161.3 km/h or 100.2 mph, thus becoming the first bowler to break the 100 mph barrier.

Some cricket aficionados question the legitimacy of the record due to there not being an industry standard for speed cameras at the time. However, Akhtar vigorously defends his title, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Only two other bowlers have managed to reach 100 mph in an international game of cricket, but neither was as quick as the controversial Akhtar. Love or loathe him, there is no denying Akhtar's ability to generate extreme speed with his deliveries.


Brett Lee - Australia


Although he never publicly said as much, Brett Lee must have been devastated when Akhtar broke the 100 mph barrier because it was a neck-and-neck race between the two to become the fastest bowler in cricket.

Lee regularly clocked 87 mph and frequently at between 90-93 mph, but the strain of consistently doing so resulted in a string of injuries that ultimately forced Lee to alter his action and strategy. The cricketing world thought Lee had achieved 100.5 mph in a Test against the West Indies in 2000, but it was an erroneous measurement.

Before those previously mentioned injuries took their toll on the Australian's body, Lee delivered a 100.2 mph ball against New Zealand in 2005, becoming only the second man in history to surpass 100 mph with one of his deliveries.

Lee ended his career with 310 Test wickets, 380 ODI wickets, and 487 First-Class wickets, including 40 five-wicket innings and two ten-wicket innings.


Shaun Tait - Australia


Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait is one of only three cricketers to break through 100 mph with one of their deliveries. Tait's sling-style delivery was not the most accurate, and he was known for giving away many extras and was often seen as an expensive bowler. His sometimes erratic action earned Tait the nickname "Wild Thing."

Tait was regularly clocked at bowling at 95-96 mph and almost broke through the 100 mph mark on home soil against Pakistan in a Twenty20 match in 2010, the fastest delivery ever recorded in Australia.

Tait achieved a 100.1 mph ball against England in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in Durban to become the third-fastest bowler in history.


Will Anyone Beat Akhtar's Long-Standing Record?


Akhtar's record has stood for two decades, but there is every chance one of the current crop of pace attack bowlers will topple the Pakistani legend. Modern-day training methods and nutrition are streets ahead of what Akhtar enjoyed during his time.

India's Jasprit Bumrah, England's Jofra Archer, and South African Shaheen Afridi have all hit 95 mph, while South African Kagiso Tabada has clocked 97.7 mph. It is undoubtedly a matter of when, not if, someone will eclipse Akhtar's jaw-dropping pace.