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Top 10 Fastest Bowlers in Cricket History

It is not easy being a fast bowler. Fast bowlers spend hours training, and yet they are the most injury-prone due to their workload. One of the fastest bowlers in the world, Shoaib Akhtar had once jokingly remarked that one has to be “mad” to be a fast bowler. It is a difficult and tiring job, which is why the sight of the stumps rattling is a treat to the eye. The main question on everyone’s mind is, who is the fastest bowler in cricket history?

The answer to the question, who is the fastest bowler in cricket history is Shoaib Akhtar. The Pakistan bowler hurled down a ball at a speed of 161.3 kmph or just over 100 miles/hour in a World Cup match against England in 2003. Here is a full list of the top 10 fastest bowlers in cricket history.

Fastest Bowlers in Cricket History

BowlerSpeedCountryOpponentYear
Shoaib Akhtar161.3 kmphPakistanEngland2003
Shaun Tait161.1 kmphAustraliaEngland2010
Brett Lee160.8 kmphAustraliaNew Zealand2005
Jeff Thomson160.6 kmphAustraliaWest Indies 1975
Mitchell Starc160.4 kmphAustraliaNew Zealand2015
Andy Roberts159.5 kmphWest IndiesAustralia1975
Fidel Edwards157.7 kmphWest IndiesSouth Africa2003
Mitchell Johnson156.8 kmphAustraliaEngland2013
Mohammad Sami156.4 kmphPakistanZimbabwe2003
Shane Bond156.4 kmphNew ZealandIndia2003

Shane Bond – New Zealand (Fastest ball: 156.4 kmph)

The face of fast bowling in New Zealand, Shane Bond was known for his speed and accuracy throughout his playing career. While his career was not a long one – Bond played international cricket for only eight years from 2002 – 2010 due to persistent injuries– he did pick up quite a number of wickets. The right-arm bowler’s fastest ball was seen in the 2003 ICC World Cup against India, where he ran at a speed of 156.4 kmph. Soon after the tournament, he suffered a spinal injury that kept him out of international cricket for two years.

Bond played 18 Tests, 82 ODIs and 20 T20Is for New Zealand, picking up 87, 147 and 25 wickets respectively.

Also Read: Which Team Holds the Record for the Highest Run Chase in ODI?

Mohammad Sami – Pakistan (Fastest ball: 156.4 kmph)

The right-arm quick who played for the Pakistan national cricket team between 2001 and 2016 bowled a delivery at 156.4 kmph in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2003. The second-fastest bowler in Pakistan after Shoaib Akhtar, Sami took eight wickets for 106 runs on his Test debut against New Zealand, including 5/36 in the second innings. In his career spanning across 15 years, the 40-year-old took 85 wickets from 36 Tests, 121 wickets from 87 ODIs and 21 wickets from 13 T20Is.

Mitchell Johnson – Australia (Fastest ball: 156.8 kmph)

One of the fastest bowlers produced by Australia, Johnson’s fastest ball was seen against England on day three of the fourth Ashes Test in Australia in December 2013. The 398th player to play Test cricket for Australia, Johnson’s bowling was so deadly that he had broken former South African skipper Graeme Smith’s hand twice. He also hit Ryan McLaren on his right arm, causing him a hairline fracture.

Johnson played 73 Tests, 153 ODIs and 30 T20Is, picking up 313, 239 and 38 wickets respectively. He has also done a decent job with the bat, scoring 2065 Test runs and 951 ODI runs. In 2014, Johnson was awarded ICC Cricketer of the Year and ICC Test Player of the year award.

Fidel Edwards – West Indies (Fastest ball: 157.7 kmph)

Known for his pace and aggression, Fidel Edwards bowled his fastest ball – against South Africa in 2003 – while he was still new a face in international cricket. It was the second-fastest delivery in international cricket at that time. The right-arm fast bowler made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2002 in Jamaica, and made an instant mark, picking up a five-for in the first innings. His ODI debut was an even better one, where he picked up 6/22 in his 7 overs against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2003.

Edwards has so far played 55 Tests, 50 ODIs and 22 T20Is, picking up 165, 60 and 17 wickets respectively.

Andy Roberts – West Indies (Fastest ball: 159.5 kmph)

The former West Indian bowler was one of the fastest of his time and also among the most feared. His fastest delivery was 159.5 kmph against Australia in Perth in 1975.  The first player from Antigua to represent the West Indies team, Roberts was a part of the West Indian side that won the first two Prudential World Cups in 1975 and 1979. After retiring from the game, he was the coach of the West Indies team in the 1990s.

Roberts, now 70, played 47 Tests and 56 ODIs, taking 202 and 87 wickets respectively.

Also Read: Who is the most successful ODI captain?

Mitchell Starc – Australia (Fastest ball: 160.4 kmph)

One of the fastest bowlers in the world, Starc bowled his fastest delivery against New Zealand on the third day of the second Test in 2015. Known for his in-swinging yorkers, Starc is the quickest bowler to 150 ODI wickets and interestingly picked up two hat-tricks in the same game in Sheffield Shield against Western Australia in 2017.

The 31-year-old, who was a part of the Australian team that won the 2015 World Cup, has 244 Test wickets and 184 ODI wickets.

Jeff Thomson – Australia (Fastest ball: 160.6 kmph)

The fastest bowler of his era, Thomson bowled at a speed of 160.6 kmph against West Indies in Perth 1975. On January 27th, 2016 Jeff was inducted into the Australian hall of fame. He took 200 Test wickets and 55 ODI wickets.

Brett Lee – Australia (Fastest ball: 160.8 kmph)

One of the fastest bowlers in the world, Lee’s fastest delivery was 160.8 kmph against New Zealand at Napier in 2005. He impressed on his Test debut against India in 1999, picking up seven wickets, including a five-wicket haul in the first innings. The stat made him the first Australian bowler since Dennis Lillee to take a fifer on debut. Lee played a major role in Australia winning the 2003 and 2007 ODI World Cup.

He put down his papers with 310 Test wickets, 280 ODI wickets and 487 first-class wickets in his tally.

Shaun Tait – Australia (Fastest ball: 161.1 kmph)

The second fastest ball bowled in the history of cricket was by Australia’s Shaun Tait against England at Lords in 2010. He spearheaded the Australian bowling attack in the 2007 World Cup when Lee was injured and finished the tournament as the joint-second leading wicket-taker with 23 wickets. Tait retired from ODI cricket in 2011, after Australia’s exit from the 2011 World Cup.

In 35 ODIs, Tait took 62 wickets at an average of 23.56 and economy of 5.19.

Shoaib Akhtar – Pakistan (Fastest ball: 161.3 kmph) 

No prizes for guessing that the fastest bowler in the history of cricket is Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar, nicknamed Rawalpindi Express for his pace. He holds the record for bowling the fastest delivery of 161.3kmph against England in the 2003 World Cup. His average bowling speed was always between 145 to 150 kmph. But throughout his career, the pacer was involved in several controversies. In 2008, Akhtar was banned for five years for criticizing the Pakistan Cricket Board.

In a triangular series in 2003 in Sri Lanka, he was involved in ball-tampering. Akhtar played 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is, taking 178, 247 and 19 wickets respectively.

Umaima Saeed
A writer who primarily writes on cricket. As of 2021, she has covered cricket for more than a dozen publications.

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