The Fastest Ball in Cricket History | Fastest bowlers in the world

The Fastest Ball in Cricket History | Fastest bowlers in the world

The Fastest Ball in Cricket History Fastest bowlers in the world

While there are debates in cricket on who has bowled the fastest Ball in cricket history, there is no debate that there is no better sight in cricket than to see a fast bowler hurling thunderbolts at the batsman on strike. To have a fast bowler in a team brings a distinct advantage to the side both in terms of intimidation and wicket-taking ability. The article will present the list of the Fastest Bowlers in the world to have tested the speed gun.


Presented by: Raghunath Nair

Date: 07/08/2023


Introduction to bowling speed

Traditionally cricket is called a batsman’s game wherein batsmen with their modern bats try to outscore the opponent to win the game. While this is true, history has proved that in most cases the game is won or lost by the quality of bowling in the team.

A game cannot be won without getting 20 wickets and while we can argue that the rules, technology, and other factors are skewed towards the batsman, the game is still won by the bowlers.

Bowlers could outfox the batsman by spin and swing which requires assistance from the pitch. Fast Bowlers are a rare commodity in modern-day cricket and teams who boast having 2-3 Fast bowlers are invariably ranked at the top of the table. Fast bowlers have the ability to generate speed in the air to beat the batsman even when pitches are not conducive to fast bowling.

Speed in cricket

Introduction to bowling speed

The speeds of cricket bowlers vary between 40 and 100 mph (64 and 161 km/h). In professional cricket, a bowler in the 40–60 mph range would be called a slow bowler, in the 60–80 mph range a medium pace bowler, and a bowler 80 mph+ a fast bowler.

A bowler delivering a ball at 150 kph hurries the batsman and it makes the batsman play more cautiously as they get less time to react. They are often the ones that take the most wickets



Fastest Bowlers in Cricket

Andy Roberts – 159.5 kph (99.10 mph)

Andy Roberts

In modern cricket, whenever we speak about the fastest bowlers in cricket, West Indies team of the 70’s and 80’s come to mind. While we are unfortunate not to have bowling speed records of some of the iconic players from the West Indies, Andy Roberts was considered the fastest bowler of his era and during the 1975 Australia series, he recorded a 159.5 kph delivery which remained in the history books for a long time. Andy Roberts was one of the famous West Indian pace quartets of the 70s and 80s.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 202

ODI Wickets –   87


Mitchell Starc – 160.4 kph (99.7 mph)

Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc took over the reins from Micheal Johnson who too was a tear-away left-arm pace bowler. Currently, Mitchell Starc spearheads the fast-bowling attack with captain Pat Cummins and makes a deadly opening combination for the Australian Test Team.

Starc has been a consistent performer in all formats of the game and his availability for the 2023 ICC Cricket world cup makes Australia a formidable side.

He is known for his accurate Yorkers and he varies his pace and bowls the faster one as a surprise delivery. His inswing Yorkers along with Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi are the deadliest amongst the modern-day pace bowlers. Mitchel Starc clocked 160.4 kph against New Zealand in the third test in 2015.

Fitness has been an issue with Mitchel Starc and years of bowling at breakneck speed has taken its toll on the Australian Southpaw. A short burst of 3-4 overs per spell is what makes him a wicket-taking Test Bowler. He is currently at full fitness and will be a bowler to look at the upcoming World Cup.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 333

ODI Wickets –   219

T20 Wickets – 73


Jeff Thomson – 160.6 kph (99.8 mph)

Jeff Thomson

In the 70s when West Indies pace bowlers bamboozled batsmen around the world, Australia had their own weapon in the form of Jeff Thomson who was one of the most fearsome bowlers in cricket history.

He partnered the legend Dennis Lillee to make a formidable opening pair in fast bowling during 1972-1985. In one of his interviews, he was candid to say that he had no idea or control over how the ball moved, as he focussed on just bowling fast. He bowled his fastest against West Indies in Perth Test, in 1975.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 200

ODI Wickets –   55


Brett Lee – 160.8 kph (99.9 mph)

Brett Lee

Brett Lee was considered the fastest bowler in Australia during his playing days. He was consistent in both the formats of the game and a useful lower middle-order batsman. He was part of the greatest Australian side ever playing alongside Rickey Ponting and Shane Warne and winning 2 ODI World Cups in 2003 and 2007. He recorded the first hat trick in the T20 cricket format. His fastest delivery was against New Zealand at Napier in 2005. He was extremely fit and hardly took long injury absences from the game, which was due to his beautiful bowling action.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 310

ODI Wickets – 280



Shaun Tait – 161.1 kph (100.1 mph)

Shaun Tait

Shaun Tait recorded the first 100 mph and was considered the fastest bowler ever. Unlike the other bowlers mentioned, Shaun Tait was not the most consistent bowler of his time but he was a genuine wicket-taker. He was prone to injury and his career was cut short by inconsistent bowling and long injury layoffs. While his career span for over a decade, Shaun hardly played 50 % of Australia’s matches during that time. He delivered his fastest ball against England at Lords in the 2010 Ashes Series.

Shaun Tait retired from first-class cricket at the age of 25 due to injuries.

He was extremely popular in the shortest format of the game and successful in major franchise tournaments across the globe.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 5

ODI Wickets – 62

T20 Wickets – 28


Shoaib Akhtar – 161.3 (100.2 mph)

Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar bowled the fastest delivery recorded in cricket history breaking the 100 mph barrier. He bowled the 161.3-speed delivery against England in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. The Rawalpindi Express as he was Nicknamed was famous for his on-the-field and off-the-field controversies. He played in the era of the famous duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Yunis which probably made him the second change bowler for a long time. His Bowling action was always a subject of debate in cricketing circles.

Records in Cricket

Test Wickets – 178

ODI Wickets – 247

T20 Wickets – 19


Did Sri Lanka’s Matheesha Pathirana bowl the fastest ball in cricket history?

Matheesha Pathirana

In the ICC under 19 tournament, the Sri Lankan delivered a wide which clocked 175 kph (108 mph)

The 17-year-old’s delivery was considered the fastest ball in the history of cricket across all formats.

The delivery however was not considered later as the organisers confirmed that a technical error led to the erroneous record.

Shoaib Akhtar’s 17-year record still holds as the fastest ever in the history of the game.


Fast bowling techniques and bowling Strategies

While fast bowling comes naturally, it can be corrected and improved by effective coaching and training. Fast bowling is a combination of various factors like upper body strength, sprinting, grip on the ball, shoulders, and hand speed.

Without the right support, fast bowlers tend to break down more often than not, Injuries halted the careers of Shoaib Akhtar and Shaun Tait.

England’s Fast bowler Jofra Archer known for his extreme pace has been on injury absence for more than 2 years. His return to England colors will be highly anticipated in the ICC World Cup 2023.

Most bowlers like Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah get pace from their shoulders and the arm recoil at the time of delivery which is a natural body movement.



Fast bowlers due to their strain on the body find it difficult to continue bowling at the pace they originally bowled. While batsmen go on to become potent at their skill, Bowlers lose pace but become intelligent bowlers.

Fast bowlers are a sight to see and a reason to watch the sport.

Umran Malik is regarded as the fastest bowler in India currently. He set a record for bowling the fastest ball by an Indian bowler in history (157kmph). He achieved the feat during the match against the Delhi team on May 5, 2022, in the IPL.

Lockie Ferguson, who bowled a delivery of 154.1 km/hr against Gujarat in the IIPL 2023 is the fastest bowler in 2023.


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