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Top 6 Fastest Cricket Bowlers in the World

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast are his passion, and he writes about them on many sites.

What Game is Cricket?

World's Largest Cricket Stadium at Motera

World's Largest Cricket Stadium at Motera

Well, that's a question you don't ask the countries in the Indian subcontinent or Australia, Middle East and Africa. But for folks from Europe and the Americas, Cricket is a relatively new game. As per Wikipedia, this is the description of Cricket.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player (so they are "out")

Drawing an analogy, Cricket is similar to Baseball, visually. The rules are very different, but since we are talking about bowlers, we will limit the comparison to the pitchers in Baseball.

In case of Baseball, the pitcher is stationary from where he or she pitches the ball. In Cricket, the bowler runs to the crease from where he bowls the ball at the batsman. The running creates the added momentum on the ball. Here is a video showing a bowling action.

Now that we have seen how bowling looks like, let’s get to know the fastest bowlers in the world.

On to the list.

List of Fastest Cricket Bowlers

Here is the list of bowlers. Each bowler is discussed below.

BowlerBall Speed

Shoaib Akhtar

100.2 mph [161.26 kmph]

Brett Lee

100.1 mph [161.1 kmph]

Shaun Tait

100.1 mph [161.1 kmph]

Jeff Thompson

99.8 mph [160.61 kmph]

Mitchell Starc

99.66 mph [160.4 kmph]

Andy Roberts

99.1 mph [159.5 kmph]

1. Shoaib Akhtar - Pakistan

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

Shoaib Akhtar hails from Rawalpindi, Pakistan and is the fastest bowler in the history of the game. His record of delivering a bowl at over 100 mph still stands. Pakistan for long had fast bowlers in Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and many others, but Akhtar was the fastest of them all.

Here are his stats:

  • Bowler: Shoaib Akhtar
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Bowling Speed:100.2 mph [161.26 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 2003
  • Against Country: England
  • Number of times above 100 mph: 2
  • Playing Status: Retired in 2011

Here is Shoaib delivering the fastest ball.

Note: Watch from 1:05 minutes to see the 100-mph ball.

Now, cricket players and those who understand the game would appreciate the fact that bowling at 100 mph is extremely taxing on the body. So, most would respect Shoaib’s achievement of doing it twice. In fact, when bowlers struggle to bowl consistently at 90 mph, 100 mph twice is in a league of its own.

So, that’s about the fastest Cricket bowler in the world – Shoaib Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express!

2. Brett Lee - Australia

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

Brett Lee was Shoaib Akhtar’s contemporary, and it was a contest back then. While winning the match was at the back of everyone’s mind, there was this contest on to see who broke the 100-mph barrier first. Eventually, Shoaib got there early as also bowling the fastest delivery. But to Brett Lee’s credit, he was one of the most consistent 160+ kmph bowlers.

Here are his stats:

  • Bowler: Brett Lee
  • Country: Australia
  • Bowling Speed:100.1 mph [161.1 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 2005
  • Against Country: New Zealand
  • Number of times above 100 mph: 1 [Although, one more time at exact 100 mph]
  • Playing Status: Retired in 2015

Here is the video of Brett bowling at exact 100-mph.

Note: Watch from 3:55 minutes. That’s when Brett bowls the 100-mph bowl.

Brett Lee was also recorded to have bowled at 161.8 kmph or nearly 101 mph. But that was dismissed as erroneous later. It was quite an era when two of the fastest bowlers in history – Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar – bowled at the same time.

Wonder when such a scenario will arise again.

3. Shaun Tait - Australia

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

Here is another Australian on the list and the one whom Shoaib Akhtar believed would go faster than him. Much like Brett Lee, Shaun Tait too had an overlap with Shoaib Akhtar’s cricketing times. He was nicknamed the “The Wild Thing” and is the joint second-fastest with Brett Lee.

Here are Shaun’s stats:

  • Bowler: Shaun Tait
  • Country: Australia
  • Bowling Speed:100.1 mph [161.1 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 2010
  • Against Country: England
  • Number of times above 100 mph: 1
  • Playing Status: Retired in 2016

Note: Watch from 0:55 minutes to see Shaun’s 100.1 mph bowl.

Although Shaun played a year longer than Brett Lee, he never had a strike at the fastest ball again. So, that’s the speed at which his final fastest delivery stood.

4. Jeff Thomson – Australia

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

Jeff was the longest known and recorded fast bowler in the history of the game. He bowled in an era when there was a lack of precise measuring equipment in Cricket. Many believed that Jeff could have crossed the 100-mph barrier, but there was no way to validate the speed. So, his measured pace stands at 99.8 mph.

More about Jeff:

  • Bowler: Jeff Thomson
  • Country: Australia
  • Bowling Speed: 99.8 mph [160.61 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 1975
  • Against Country: West Indies
  • Number of times above 100 mph: None
  • Playing Status: Retired in 1985

Jeff Thompson's era had a different way of computing ball speed. It was timed from the point at which the bowl left the bowler's hand to the point where it met the batsman's bat or went past him. However, from Brett, Shoaib and Shaun's era, it was measured at the time of leaving the bowler's hand. In other words, the previous era bowlers could have been faster by the current measuring logic.

Have a look at this conversation with Jeff. It is quite impressive!

Simple logic would tell us that if someone measured 99.8 mph at the time the ball met the batsman, after hitting the wicket (friction), then the ball would have been delivered faster than 100 mph from the bowler’s arm. Correct?

Looks like Jeff did have a point there. These guys probably were quicker than measured.

5. Mitchell Starc - Australia

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

We have one more Australian on the list, only that Starc belongs to the modern era of Cricket and hence, the current mode of measuring bowling speed. Mitchell usually bowls in the 150 kmph bracket, but there was one bullet which came out at 160 kmph. That bullet brings Mitchell to this list.

  • Bowler: Mitchell Starc
  • Country: Australia
  • Bowling Speed: 99.66 mph [160.4 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 2015
  • Against Country: New Zealand
  • Number of times above 100 mph: None
  • Playing Status: Playing

Here’s Mitchell Starc bowling his fastest delivery.

The 160 kmph speed is something that all of the bowlers on this list would have done multiple times. So, it is not a unique speed like the 100-mph barrier breaking speed. In fact, Mitchell himself would have bowled at 160 kmph multiple times and topped at 160.4 kmph. So, as we go down this list, the uniqueness of a delivered ball reduces.

6. Andy Roberts – West Indies

top-6-fastest-cricket-bowlers-in-the-world

For a change, we have a West Indian on the list and was one of the lethal bowlers of his time. Andy once again belongs to the era of Jeff Thompson and therefore, a possibility that he could have been faster but measured only at 99.1 mph.

So, here is the great Andy Roberts’ stats:

  • Bowler: Andy Roberts
  • Country: West Indies
  • Bowling Speed: 99.1 mph [159.5 kmph]
  • Year Achieved: 1975
  • Against Country: Australia
  • Number of times above 100 mph: None
  • Playing Status: Retired in 1983

Here’s Andy taking ten wickets in a match against the England team.

See that bowling? He was quite lethal. In fact, he formed part of a quartet of West-Indian bowlers who dominated the world between 1975 and 1982; that quartet comprised of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. They were all capable of bowling consistently over 90 mph. They had many names – pack of wolves, four horsemen of the apocalypse, terrorists (not in the current usage manner), fearsome foursome and many others. Each had their own name too like whispering death for Michael Holding as the umpire never heard him coming.

Take a look at the quartet:

That was the golden era of West Indian Cricket which sadly, today finds itself at the bottom of the heap. Anyway, hope to see such deadly bowlers in the current era of cricket.

Special Mention: Matheesha Pathirana – 175 kmph

Yes, you read it right. Matheesha hails from Sri Lanka and during his under-nineteen bowling attack, one of his balls was measured at 175 kmph. That’s like nearly 109 mph. Take a look.

Note: Video is not in English. Jump to 0:40 minutes.

So, then what happened? Why is it not a record?

It turned out that there was an error in the measuring instrument, causing the recorded speed. That part was clarified later and therefore, Shoaib continues to remain the fastest bowler in the world.

Back to the Dressing Room

That completes our list of bowlers capable of bowling 99 mph and above. Below 99 mph, the uniqueness of record diminishes as the ones above could have bowled at that speed or ones not on the list could have bowled a one-off fast bowl. So, we limit our list to the top six.

It is difficult to know if Shoaib’s record will ever be broken, but if it does, rest assured that it will be updated over here.

Till then, adios!

© 2020 Savio Koman

Comments

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on July 30, 2020:

Hello MG,

Roy Gilchrist, the West Indian, right? Yeah, he was fast, especially, those deadly beamers. Did you know that the 1959 Indian Test was also his last? It happens that while he was tormenting the Indian batsmen with the short pitched balls, his West Indian captain thought it was dangerous. Despite being warned many times, Roy did not back-off. So, the captain eventually removed him and that was his last in test cricket. Just an odd fact. :)

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 30, 2020:

Come to think there was the chap call Roy Gilchrist who came to India in 59 and was then banned for bowling beamers. Nobody measured his speed but I think he was very fast. He could have been close to Shoaib Akhtar.

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on April 01, 2020:

Possible MG, hence I mentioned that most of the measures of Larwood's pace was a calculated guess. So, no real data to prove his speed. Like you said, the body-line Ashes told a very different story of his pace. All the Australian batsmen were tormented.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 01, 2020:

Savio, thanks but I am inclined to believe he was faster. Even Bradman had a tough time against him and Bradman was a great player.

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on March 31, 2020:

Also, MG, here is a video where they tried measuring Larwood's speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKaDqm-aMGc

They estimate that he would have been bowling around 147 kmph or 91 odd mph. Thought you would like to know.

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on March 31, 2020:

Thank you, Umesh! Glad you enjoyed the article! :)

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on March 31, 2020:

Hello MG,

Yes Larwood would have been fast. He represented an era even before Jeff Thompson's time, so there were hardly any measuring modes. Because of his natural speed and the famous (or infamous) body-line Ashes, we know that he was quite quick. Much like Jeff's era, which was nearly four decades later, not much is available in terms of his speed of bowling. All that I could find was speculated guess.

Anyway, he was indeed a fine bowler though!

Nice to catch up with you! :)

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 31, 2020:

Very interesting backed by facts and figures. I wonder where Harold Larwood would stand. He was pretty fast

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 31, 2020:

Informative article. Nice reading.

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