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Bowling at breakneck speeds has always been a sought-after quality since the early days of cricket. From Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee to Shoaib Akthar and Brett Lee, fast bowlers are considered one of the most important members of any cricket team.

Among all these greats, a few have etched their names in history by bowling the fastest balls in cricket history. Here, we look at the fastest bowlers in the world.

Shoaib Akhtar - 161.3kmph (100.2mph) | Pakistan vs England, 2003

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar is the fastest bowler in the world, breaking the 100 miles per hour (mph) barrier against England for the first time in international cricket.

Nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar bowled the fastest ball in cricket - 161.3 km/hr (100.2 mph) - in a One-Day International (ODI) game against England during the 2003 Cricket World Cup at Cape Town in South Africa.

Bowling his second over of the match to former England opening batter Nick Knight, Akhtar tormented the southpaw by recording speeds of 153.3 km/h, 158.4km/h, 158.5km/h, 157.4km/h, 159.5km/h and 161.3km/h as he completed a maiden over. 

The last ball of the fourth over of the match was bowled at 161.3km/h, etching Shoaib Akhtar’s name in the history books as the world’s fastest bowler.

However, the right-arm fast bowler ended up conceding 63 runs in his nine overs, picking the solitary wicket of Michael Vaughan as Pakistan suffered a 112-run defeat in the 50-over World Cup encounter.

Shaun Tait - 161.1kmph (100.1mph) | Australia vs England, 2010

Shaun Tait is officially considered the second cricketer to breach the 100 mph barrier against England at Lord’s in an ODI encounter in 2010.

The former Australia fast bowler clocked 161.1 km/h (100.1 mph) while bowling to England opening batter Craig Kieswetter in his first over. Tait was the wrecker-in-chief for Australia as he bagged four crucial wickets in the match helping the visitors secure a 42-run win.

Brett Lee - 160.8kmph (99.9mph) | Australia vs New Zealand, 2005

Brett Lee was the second bowler to come near the 100mph barrier in international cricket. The former Australia pacer recorded his fastest delivery of 160.8 km/h (99.9 mph) against New Zealand in the fifth ODI at Napier in 2005.

Lee bowled his quickest delivery to ex-Kiwi opening batter Craig Cumming in the very first over of the 50-over match. The Australia speedster ended the game with figures of 1/34 as the visitors claimed a commanding 122-run victory.

Interestingly, Lee had also clocked 161.8 km/h in a Test against the West Indies in Brisbane, Australia in the 2000-01 season. However, Australian cricket team’s then official broadcaster, Channel Nine accepted that their recording of 161.8 km/h was certainly a mistake.

Among active players, another Australian pacer Mitchell Starc is currently the fastest bowler in world cricket. The left-arm pacer bowled his fastest delivery of 160.4 km/h against New Zealand on the third day of the second Test at Perth in 2015.

South Africa pacer Anrich Nortje, England fast bowler Jofra Archer and New Zealand speedster Lockie Ferguson are some of Starc’s fiercest competitors in terms of pace in world cricket at the moment.

Fastest bowler in the world

Bowler Fastest delivery Against Year
Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan) 161.3 km/hr (100.2 mph) England 2003
Shaun Tait (Australia) 161.1 km/hr (100.1 mph) England 2010
Brett Lee (Australia) 160.8 km/hr (99.9 mph) New Zealand 2005
Jeffrey Thomson (Australia) 160.6 km/hr (99.8 mph) West Indies 1975
Mitchell Starc (Australia) 160.4 km/hr (99.7 mph) New Zealand 2015
Andy Roberts (West Indies) 159.5 km/hr (99.1 mph) Australia 1975
Fidel Edwards (West Indies) 157.7 km/hr (97.9 mph) South Africa 2003
Mitchell Johnson (Australia) 156.8 km/hr (97.4 mph) England 2013
Mohammad Sami (Pakistan) 156.4 km/hr (97.1 mph) Zimbabwe  2003
Shane Bond (New Zealand) 156.4 km/hr (97.1 mph) India 2003

Fastest Indian bowler

Jammu and Kashmir pacer Umran Malik is the fastest Indian bowler. The young bowler clocked a 157kmph delivery while playing for Hyderabad against Delhi during the Indian T20 League 2022. 

Meanwhile, Irfan Pathan has bowled the fastest ball in international cricket by an Indian. The left-armer sent in a searing 153.7kmph ball against Pakistan during the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

Featured photo: MATT CARDY / AFP

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