Cricket, often viewed as a game of batsmen nowadays due to the rising popularity of T20s and high scoring ODIs, was traditionally more a bowlers’ game with batsmen struggling for survival.
The infamous Body Line Series and the ages of no helmets resulted in numerous forced retirements, deaths, and injuries resulting from fast bowling attacks, to remain as black marks in the game’s history.
The feared Pace quartet of West Indies, Lillee-Thompson pair of Australia, etc., made the game famous for the ball’s speed.
Today we picked up the five fastest bowlers ever in cricket.
1. Shoaib Akhtar
Fondly called ‘the Rawalpindi Express’- Shoaib Akhtar was one of the fastest bowlers of his time and was also the first bowler to pass the 100 miles per hour speed by bowling a ball of 161.3 kmph (in 2003 ICC World Cup).
One of the legends of Pakistan Cricket, Akhtar, was famous for his vicious swing in the snake ball and his speed.
With 178 Test wickets and 247 ODI wickets, Akhtar was a genius in his career spanning from 1997 to 2011.
2. Shaun Tait
With a top speed of 161.1 kmph, Shaun Tait of Australia is famous in the cricket world for his speed.
Nicknamed as ‘the wild thing,’ Tait last played an ODI in 2011 at the age of 27 years and last T20I in 2016 because of injuries cutting his career short.
He continued playing franchise cricket across the globe, though, and played in IPL, BBL, etc., for various teams.
At 37 years in 2021, Tait has little cricket left to play but shall always be remembered for his blistering first over in a T20 match against Pakistan at MCG, where he bowled 156.3 kmph, 159 kmph, 160.7 kmph, 150.7 kmph (wide), 156.9 kmph, 155.1 kmph, 156.4 kmph respectively to Imran Farhat.
3. Brett Lee
Legendary Australian pacer Lee had the highest speed of 160.8 kmph.
With 310 Test wickets and 280 ODI wickets, Lee was a vital contributing member of the Australian squad of Ricky Ponting, which won consecutive world cups in 2003 and 2007.
His fastest delivery 160.8 kmph was bowled in 2005 in a match against New Zealand.
4. Jeff Thompson
The Thompson from the fearsome Lillee-Thompson attack of Australia, Jeff Thompson was one of the most feared bowlers of his era, having a peak of 160.6 km.
Remember that helmets then didn’t have a front guard, and it was an immense risk to hook or pull a ball.
In a career spanning from 1972 to 1985, Thompson took 200 test wickets and 55 ODI wickets.
5. Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc of Australia, one of the best left-hand pacers of the world at this moment, famous for his inswinging deliveries and Yorkers, bowls regularly into 140-150 kmph.
Bowling his fastest delivery in 2015 on a Test against New Zealand at 160.4 kmph, Starc joined a list of elite fast bowlers.