As the game evolved, slower balls have become a key part of the bowlers’ arsenal, especially in limited-overs cricket and here is the list of slowest ball in cricket history. Slower ball is an art of deceptive bowling where the bowler – as the name suggests – delivers the ball at a considerably slower speed than their average pace. The batter then has to adjust to the slower speed and save their wicket or score runs.
Most bowlers around the globe have embraced the tactic of employing slower deliveries to outfox the batters. In an era where batters have gotten significantly better in power-hitting and the rules also in their favour, bowlers needed to adapt and find new ways to control the scoring rate. Employing slower deliveries has become so rampant that there's some criticism that bowlers use it far too often.
Fast bowlers as well as spinners find good value in using slower balls to deceive the batters. As the tactic became increasingly prevalent in recent times, batters have also developed ways to counter it and the art of slower balls has become more difficult.
Over the years, there have been a few bowlers to master this art. When we think about slower balls, the likes of Lasith Malinga, Dwayne Bravo and Jasprit Bumrah instantly come to mind as some of the best to do it. Today we take a look at the slowest ball in cricket history.
- 1 Top seven slowest ball in cricket history
Top seven slowest ball in cricket history
1. Jasprit Bumrah vs Shaun Marsh (2018)
India's arguably greatest fast bowler pulled this rabbit out of the hat during the Boxing Day Test against Australia in 2018. Just before lunch on day three, the hosts were three wickets down and were trailing by 354 runs. Shaun Marsh and Travis Head had added 36 runs to bring some stability to the innings but they needed to get through one over of Bumrah before lunch.
The yorker is a rarely used delivery in Test cricket, especially against set top-order batsmen. And slower yorker, only a genius like Bumrah could execute to perfection. He had peppered the Aussie batters with bouncers that morning. Marsh, who generally was tentative with his footwork, was caught completely off-guard when Bumrah sent down a slower dipping yorker that had him plumb in front. This is arguably the best slowest ball in cricket history.
2. Chris Cairns vs Chris Read (1999)
This was one of the earliest instances of a bowler using a slower ball to outplay a batter. This came during the second Test between England and New Zealand at Lord's in 1999. On the first day of the Test, New Zealand had an upper hand over the hosts, having them five down for 125.
The delivery came in the 30th over of the match when Chris Read was facing the Kiwi pacer Chris Cairns. Read saw the initial trajectory of the delivery and tried to duck, thinking it was an over-the-head beamer. But it was a slower ball that dipped big and went through the legs of Read to hit the stumps.
3. Aaqib Javed vs Mark Greatbatch (1992)
Aaqib Javed played a key role in Pakistan lifting the 1992 ODI World Cup, when he delivered one of the best slowest ball in cricket history to Mark Greatbatch in the semifinal versus New Zealand. The NZ opening batter was in top form coming into this game, with three fifties in the tournament.
In the 10th over of the match, Greatbatch advanced down the track having already smashed Javed and Wasim Akram for sixes. Javed saw him coming and bowled a leg-stump line back-of-the-hand slower ball that bounced off the seam and hit the stumps.
4. Shoaib Akhtar vs Michael Vaughan (2005)
Shoaib Akhtar was arguably the fastest bowler to ever play the game. And when he bowled a slower ball, it was bound to bamboozle the batter more often than not. One of those slower balls came in the third Test against England at Lahore in 2005.
Akhtar consistently bowled at over 145 kmph before this delivery. When the scoreboard was 30/2, Akhtar delivered a slower yorker to the England skipper Michael Vaughan. The batter completely misread the ball and handed an easy catch back to Akhtar.
5. Brett Lee vs Brian Lara (2005)
Brett Lee was one of the fastest bowlers in the world, who could consistently clock over 145 kmph. In the first Test against West Indies in 2005, Lee took out Lara with his slower ball.
Lara looked set, batting in the 30s and the Australian pacer was finding it hard to make an impact with his usual pace. Lee decided to change things up and threw in a full slower ball that struck Lara on the pads right in front of the stumps.
6. Steve Harmison vs Michael Clarke (2005)
Steve Harminson produced one of the most memorable slower balls in cricket history when he outfoxed Michael Clarke in the Edgbaston Test of the 2005 Ashes. At the back end of the third day’s play, Australia were seven wickets down with 107 more to win. Clarke and Shane Warne at the crease, and England were desperately trying to get Warne on strike.
Harmison peppered Clarke with four bouncers in that over before bowling a slower yorker that cleaned up Clarke. England went on to win the match by just two runs, paving the way for their 2-1 Ashes triumph.
7. Curtley Ambrose vs Ian Healy (1993)
Curtley Ambrose was amongst the most fearsome bowlers in cricket history for his speed and the height he delivered the ball from. He was part of the menacing pace attack of the West Indies in the 1980s. So when he attempted a slower ball in an ODI versus Australia in 1993, not only the batter but Ambrose too was startled.
Ian Healy, who was batting on a run-a-ball 33, could not have imagined that one of the most intimidating bowlers would try a slower ball. Healy could not adjust to the pace of the ball and still went through with the shot, only to end up getting bowled as players burst into laughter, making it one of the best slowest ball in cricket history.