Top 10 fastest bowlers in cricket history | Fastest bowler in the world in 2023

 

Is there a finer sight in cricket, than the fastest bowler in the world devastating batting line ups?

Cricket is often regarded as the batsman's game. There are seldom occasions where bowlers hold the upper hand in cricket, due to shorter boundaries and large-sized bats which make life easier for the batsman.

Despite this, many fast bowlers in the past have made their mark through lethal weapons such as pace, swing, and bounce. While pace for most batters these days is not a huge concern, still a few tearaways fast bowlers have managed to rattle teams through speed coupled with accuracy.

Below, we break down the top 10 fastest bowlers in cricket history, before looking at who is the fastest bowler in the world in 2023.

Also read: Who will win the Purple Cap in IPL 2023?

List of all-time fastest bowlers in cricket history | Top 10

Bowler Country Fastest delivery Year and Opposition
Shoaib Akhtar Pakistan 161.3 km/hr (100.2 mph) 2003 vs England
Shaun Tait Australia 161.1 km/hr (100.1 mph) 2010 vs England
Brett Lee Australia 160.8 km/hr (99.9 mph) 2005 vs New Zealand
Jeffrey Thomson Australia 160.6 km/hr (99.8 mph) 1975 vs West Indies
Mitchell Starc Australia 160.4 km/hr (99.7 mph) 2015 vs New Zealand
Andy Roberts West Indies 159.5 km/hr (99.1 mph) 1975 vs Australia
Fidel Edwards West Indies 157.7 km/hr (97.9 mph) 2003 vs South Africa
Mitchell Johnson Australia 156.8 km/hr (97.4 mph) 2013 vs England
Mohammad Sami Pakistan 156.4 km/hr (97.1 mph) 2003 vs Zimbabwe
Shane Bond New Zealand 156.4 km/hr (97.1 mph) 2003 vs India

Here's a detailed look at the list of top 10 fastest bowlers of all-time, with a break down of how they came to bowl their fastest ball:

10. Shane Bond (New Zealand ) – 156.4 km/hr

Shane Bond New Zealand
Shane Bond (Image Source: Getty Images)

Shane Bond was a fast, destructive, and fearsome pace bowler for New Zealand.

In a career marred with injuries, Bond struggled with his longevity in the game. The Kiwi was world-renowned for his brutal pace and the sheer comfort at which he nailed the perfect yorkers to the batsmen. Toe-crushing yorkers were his specialty and he feasted on the best batsmen of his era. To be specific, he will always be remembered to claim Ricky Ponting’s wicket in all of the first six ODIs they played against one another.

Bond's athletic and smooth action was geared towards his in-swing and his frustrating 150 km/hr pace that allowed the ball to swing late. He took 87 Test wickets, 147 ODI wickets, and 27 T20I wickets in his bowling career for the Black Caps.

In the World Cup 2003 against India, the Kiwi pacer bowled his fastest ball at a speed of 156.4 km/hr.

9. Mohammad Sami (Pakistan) – 156.4 km/hr

Mohammad Sami Pakistan
Mohammad Sami

Mohammad Sami is the 2nd fastest bowler for Pakistan in their cricket history.

Known for his pace and swing, Sami has unofficially bowled the fastest delivery in cricket at a speed of 164 km/h (101.9 mph) during an ODI. However, it was later identified as a fault in the speed meter by the cricket officials.

Sami did deliver his fastest ball clocked at 156.4 km/hr against Zimbabwe in the ODI series of 2003. The Pakistani pacer took 85 Test wickets and 121 ODI wickets during his bowling career for Pakistan.

8. Mitchell Johnson (Australia) – 156.8 km/hr

Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson wreaked havoc in the 2013 Ashes at home (Image Source: Getty Images)

Mitchell Johnson was undoubtedly one of the most destructive pacers in the world. The Aussie, at his best, was as fearsome as fast bowlers may come. During his prime, he was a runaway match-winner for Australia.

The left-arm quick bowled his fastest delivery in the 2013 Ashes at MCG clocking 156.8 km/hr. Johnson did a stupendous job with the ball against England & South Africa with his speed and aggression. He cowed the batsmen with ease in those eight Test matches he played, picking up 59 wickets at 15.23 along with a bunch of cherries on the helmet. That stellar performance led him to the prestigious Allan Border medal at the age of 32.

Across his career, Johnson achieved all sorts of laurels for his sheer class with the ball.

Mitchell Johnson has 313 Test wickets and 239 ODI wickets for Australia, and played a crucial role in guiding the home team to an Ashes win with 37 wickets in 2013. The Queensland bowler was also a part of Australia's World Cup triumph in 2015.

7. Fidel Edwards (West Indies) – 157.7 km/hr

Fidel Edwards
Fidel Edwards of West Indies (Image Source: Getty Images)

The West Indian pace bowler Fidel Edwards made his debut in 2003.

Edward's burst onto the scene was marked with much hype touting him as one of the fastest bowlers in the world. Fidel bowled his fastest delivery against South Africa where the Caribbean speedster clocked 157.7 km/hr. He had a very round-arm action and was often regarded as one of the toughest bowlers to pick from the hand.

However, the right-arm pacer didn't have a huge impact at the highest level. In his active bowling career for West Indies, he took 165 Test wickets and 60 ODI wickets. The 39-year-old has even earned a T20I call-up for the home series against Sri Lanka in 2021.

6. Andy Roberts (West Indies) – 159.5 km/hr

Andy Roberts
Andy Roberts terrorized batters during the late 70s

Andy Roberts was part of the legendary West Indian quartet during the late 1970s and the early 80s. His fastest delivery of 159.5 km/hr came against Australia in Perth in the year 1975.

Roberts was the first Antiguan who represented West Indies at the international level. He was part of the West Indies World Cup Winning squad in 1975 and 1979. The pace bowler picked a total of 202 Test wickets and 87 ODI wickets during his playing career for the West Indies.

5. Mitchell Starc (Australia) – 160.4 km/hr

Fastest bowlers in cricket
Image Credit: Icon Sport

Mitchell Starc is part of the elite list of left-arm bowlers to have played the game at the highest level. The Australian pacer was the highest wicket-taker in two consecutive 50-over World Cups in 2015 and 2019. The speedster bowled his fastest delivery at 160.4 km/hr in a Test match against New Zealand at Perth. 

The 31-year old has picked 255 Test wickets and 184 ODI wickets in his career so far. Despite witnessing a dip in his recent performances, Starc happens to be one of Australia's premier pacers in the Test format. 

4. Jeffrey Thomson (Australia) – 160.6 km/hr

Jeff Thomson
Jeff Thomson (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Jeff Thomson was a dreadful sight for any batter during his prime. The former Australian made life miserable for most batters during his tenure as an Australian cricketer. He instilled fear in the minds of the opposition with his sheer pace coupled with enormous consistency.

Thomson delivered his fastest delivery at a speed of 160.6 km/hr against the West Indies at Perth in 1975. Partnering with Dennis Lillee, Thomson would make for the most fearsome fast-bowling duo during the 1974-75 season. He took 200 Test wickets and 55 ODI wickets between 1972 to 1985.

3. Shaun Tait (Australia) – 161.1 km/hr

Shaun Tait
Shaun Tait (Image Source: Cricket Australia)

With a muscular and beefy build with broad shoulders and a slinging action that complemented the short run-up, Shaun Tait had made it to the big leagues.

Known for his erratic bowling, Shaun Tait didn't witness enough success at the international level for Australia. However, he was one of the quickest bowlers during the 2010s. He could only play three Tests and 35 ODIs for Australia between 2004 and 2016. His slinging action made it look so easy for him but bowling consistently above 150 clicks had now become his forte. He bowled his fastest delivery against England.

This particular ball was delivered at a speed of 161.1 km/hr. The right-arm pacer even breached the 100mph barrier against Pakistan in a T20I game at Melbourne later in his career. Despite a short career, Shaun Tait will always be regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in cricket history.

2. Brett Lee (Australia) – 161.1 km/hr

Brett Lee fastest Australian bowler
Brett Lee was the fastest Australian bowler of all time (Image Source: Cricket Australia)

Brett Lee was the fastest Australian bowler in history and the second-fastest bowler of all time.

The New South Wales player had a formidable Australian line-up during the early 2000s. He was a regular feature along with the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Apart from his accuracy, his menacing pace troubled most batters against him. He crossed the 100 miles barrier to deliver his fastest delivery at 161.1 km/hr against New Zealand in 2005 at Napier.

Among the fastest bowlers in his heyday, Brett lee was a potent weapon in Australia’s armoury during their glory days back in the 2000s. The pacer had every trick up his sleeve, right from a slower ball to a menacing yorker, he had it all. His deadly bouncers and sheer pace with devious eye contact with the batters made him the complete fast-bowling package.

Also read: 6 ball 6 six record list

The 44-year-old was crucial to Australia's World Cup-winning campaign in 2003 and 2007. In the 2007 T20 World Cup, Brett even became the first bowler to claim a hat-trick in a T20I match. In a glorious career that spanned nearly 13 years, Lee grabbed nearly 700 international wickets for Australia. While what he did with the ball unquestionably defined him as a cricketer, Lee’s batting prowess was quite underrated.

A surprising fact about Brett Lee is that he is more often referred to as “Binga” after the chain of electronics store “Bing Lee”, since his school days.

1. Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan) – 161.3 km/hr

Shoaib Akhtar is the fastest bowler in the world
Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar is the fastest bowler in the world (Image Source: Getty Images)

Known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express', Shoaib Akhtar is the fastest bowler in the world of cricket. He had a runup like no other, wherein he often ran from the boundary line and bowled his delivery. Shoaib Akhtar had a natural pace and bounce with the help of his slinging action which was complemented tremendously by his beefy build.

The right-arm pacer from Pakistan bowled the fastest delivery in international cricket during the Cricket World Cup 2003. Akhar, who always cherished bowling fast, clocked 161.3 km/hr against England at Capetown (South Africa). This delivery made him the first player in cricket history to break the 100 Mile barrier on the speed gun. His aggressive bowling and unique action always grabbed the limelight amidst all the cricket action.

Akhtar took 178 Test wickets and 247 ODI wickets during his playing days for Pakistan (1997 – 2011). He was feared by most of the batsmen in his heyday and was undoubtedly one of the fastest bowlers in cricket history. He enjoys a huge fan following in his country and is widely appreciated for his game analysis.

Fastest bowlers in 2023

During the days when cricket was just being introduced to the world, pacers were a nightmare for batsmen.

In addition to looking devious, Dennis Lille and Andy Roberts bowled with ferocity at the batsmen. As a result of the sheer natural pace, the batsmen were hit more often than their stumps, causing several injuries. It generated a pace unlike any other due to the smooth runup and smooth action.

There have been some of the fastest bowlers in cricket history who have troubled even the best. The list of the fastest bowlers in cricket history is never-ending. Every year, a new talent is weeded out of thin air and introduced on the international stage. Some use them as raw talent while some act as a trump card for the rest. Cricket in the modern era consists of fast bowlers who may not be the most fierce looking or have a beefy build but sure as hell know how to fire it up in the slot.

If the above list of bowlers were able to create havoc at various stages in history, there is a current crop of modern bowlers who have been able to make a huge impact as well. These bowlers might not have gone beyond some of the speeds set by their predecessors, but they are still plenty fast enough to become the fastest bowler in the world.

The top 10 fast bowlers from the modern era are:

10. Adam Milne (New Zealand) – 153.28 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Adam Milne joins the list of New Zealand bowlers who have been able to hit 150 km/hr speeds with relative ease. The easy and smooth action shown by the Kiwi is quite different from many of the fast bowlers, but he can have a major impact on the game with his swing and pace.

Coming from a nation which has produced many top fast bowlers like Shane Bond, Adam Milne has had a reputation to live up to and he has done so exceedingly well by hitting 153.28 kph in a T20 game against the West Indies. On most occasions, his average speed is set around 145-150 kph.

In recent years, Adam Milne has suffered from a string of injury problems that have limited his impact. These injuries have prevented him from making a huge impact on the game with 40 ODI games producing just 41 wickets.

9. Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) – 154.23 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Kagiso Rabada is growing as one of the best bowlers in the world. He has been one of the key members of the South African line-up for a couple of years. He is able to dial up his pace to a great extent and this was evident during the IPL 2019. He was able to come in with an impressive 154.23 km/hr to make it one of the fastest balls in the IPL.

On most occasions, though, his average speed is around 145 km/hr. Still, he is one of the impressive members of the South African line-up. At just 27 years of age in 2022, Kagiso Rabada clearly has a long way to go. He has been quite impressive in test matches with a whopping 243 wickets already from the 52 test games. He has been slowly climbing up the ladder in other formats of the game.

8. Wahab Riaz (Pakistan) – 154.5 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Wahab Riaz has plenty of potentials when it comes to delivering a fastball. Yet, he does not feature at the top of the list but his record of 154.5 clocked against India in the World Cup 2015 is quite a formidable number.

On most occasions, the Pakistani bowler tends to bowl at an average speed of 145 kph. The incredible pace has often resulted in scintillating spells in the past. One of his memorable moments in the game would be the World Cup match against Australia in 2015 when he competed impressively against compatriot Shane Watson in the match.

In recent years, Wahab Riaz has become a specialist when it comes to the T20 games and he has featured in many of the top T20 leagues in the world.

7. Jofra Archer (England) – 154.65 kph

fastest bowler in the world

Jofra Archer is an England cricketer from Barbados who has excelled in the T20 and international matches.

The young fast bowler is a new weapon in England’s armoury and will prove to be very fruitful as the years go by. His smooth runup followed by an effortless action makes his bowling look so easy. He has shattered many helmets, especially his one-on-one against Steve smith in the Ashes, which knocked the Aussie out for a concussion. Such is his sheer gruesome pace.

Although, Archer came to prominence during the 2019 World Cup when he was brought in as a last-minute inclusion. Still, he went on to create a memorable spell during the World Cup. This was followed by a brilliant debut at the Ashes when he hit 154.65 kph – his fastest ball yet. Even though this place is far away from making Archer the fastest bowler in cricket history, it remains a huge achievement nonetheless.

Archer holds all the tricks in his bag and has the capability to clock 160 with the ball, provided England doesn’t overuse him by tiring him out in all three formats.

6. Mohammad Hasnain (Pakistan) – 155.1 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Mohammad Hasnain has regularly hit the high 140s km/hr, but there was one special ball at the 2019 Caribbean Premier League when he hit an incredible 155.1 km/hr.

Still in the early days of his career, Mohammad Hasnain has yet to hold down a regular spot on the team but he has already picked up plenty of accolades. The 22-year-old from Sindh in Pakistan has featured in less than 10 ODI games while he has been growing in stature when it comes to the T20I games.

5. Mark Wood (England) – 156.1 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Mark Wood is a fast bowler from Northumberland in England. He has a lot of potentials to create quite a lot of pace in his deliveries and his height also provides a sizeable advantage in creating bounce.

England has been quite dependent on Wood’s quality in recent years. Even though he consistently averages around 150 kph, this English cricketer came close to becoming the fastest bowler in the world by hitting 156.1 kph against New Zealand in June 2021.

Although, there was a time in his life when Wood was considered one of those fast bowlers who promised more than they delivered. However, despite his relentless succession of injuries, Wood rose up to the occasion and delivered for England. Since 2018, Wood has been part of the IPL with Chennai Super Kings while he has also excelled in the test format with 82 wickets from 26 games.

Sooner or later, Mark Wood’s dedication will get him to the higher ranks and become one of the fastest bowlers in cricket history.

4. Anrich Nortje (IPL – Rajasthan Royals) – 156.22 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

South African quickstep Anrich Nortje is considered a genuine fast bowler and has been given the tag of “extremely exciting” by none other than Dale Steyn.

Nortje is well known for his ability to regularly send the speed gun over 150 km/hr and has a fearsome bouncer. He has been a valuable asset to the proteas and has done exceptionally well in red-ball cricket.

Anrich Nortje is one of the key bowling assets for the Delhi Capitals and he proved his worth with one of the fastest balls ever recorded. A delivery that hit 156.22 kph against the Rajasthan Royals made the South African the fastest bowler in the world. In fact, these figures almost put him as the fastest bowler in cricket history if not for a few other names.

Anrich Nortje has been quite consistent with the ball and his sheer pace rattles many batsmen. The 28-year-old has excelled as a test bowler with 47 wickets from 12 matches.

3. Umran Malik (IPL – Hyderabad Sunrisers) – 157 km/hr

Fastest bowler in the world
Image Credit: Icon Sport

Umran Malik is a bowler who has consistently hit the 150+ km/hr mark.

The pacer from Jammu and Kashmir was able to create a record by hitting 157 km/hr in a game against Delhi. This ball in the Indian T20 league against Delhi might not have made Malik the fastest bowler in cricket history, but it certainly has made him the fastest Indian bowler. It is interesting that Malik’s previous record came in at a relatively modest 153.3 km/hr only a few months before this record-breaking delivery.

Umran Malik is yet to become an established name in the Indian line-up.

Also read: Umran Malik: Fastest Ball by an Indian in Cricket

2. Lockie Ferguson (New Zealand) – 157.3 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

New Zealand cricketer Lockie Ferguson is one of the several fast bowlers from the tiny nation.

The injury to Adam Milne appeared to be a way in for Ferguson, who has taken over the mantle as a bowler who can consistently get 150 kph deliveries. Ferguson is the key part of the New Zealand bowling line-up and his fastest ball in recent times was 157.3 kph against Rajasthan Royals in 2022. Even though Ferguson does suffer from a string of injuries, he is a potent weapon for the New Zealand bowling line-up.

It is no wonder that Ferguson is considered one of the iconic names in New Zealand cricket after registering 73 wickets in ODI games. The Kiwi holds the strength to someday be listed among the fastest bowlers in cricket history.

1. Mitchell Starc (Australia) – 160.4 km/hr

fastest bowler in the world

Mitchell Starc is the bowler who spearheads the Australian bowling attack after taking over the reins from Mitchell Johnson.

Since 2015, the speedster has been able to terrorize batsmen with his ability to hit an amazing pace while also being quite accurate with his length and line. The left-arm pacer is also quite popular for his powerful yorkers. Even though Mitchell Starc has been able to hit 160 km/hr on a couple of occasions, he consistently prefers to bowl at 145 km/hr before trying to up the ante when it matters the most.

For example, a game in Perth against New Zealand saw him hit a speed of 160.4 km/hr. The World Cup delivery has made Starc close to the top of the pile when it comes to the fastest bowler in the cricket history list. After going home with the Player of the Tournament title, Starc has quickly been one of the standout performers in the Australian setup.

The 32-year-old from New South Wales has been able to hit 287 wickets in tests and 195 wickets in ODI matches as of 2022. His ODI average is particularly excellent at just 22.45.

Honorable mentions for the fastest bowlers in 2023

Pat Cummins

Fastest bowler in the world
Image Credit: Icon Sport

Pat Cummins was able to create headlines when he broke through in a promising fashion back in 2011 when he was just 18 years old. However, plenty of injuries and surgery meant that he had to be out of action for more than five years in test cricket alone.

The back injury might have created a major threat to his career, but intense rehabilitation meant that Cummins was back in action in 2015. Since his return, he has been able to terrorize batsmen and a test match against India in 2017 be the turning point of his career.

After managing to wipe out the Indian team with a string of wickets, Australian selectors clearly had a new leader in the bowling center. Even though the fastest delivery bowled by Cummins came in at an impressive 151 kph, his average bowling speed was around 150 Kph irrespective of the surface. This made him a big weapon for Australia in many international series and tournaments.

The ICC world rankings also unsurprisingly put Cummins at the top of the ICC test bowler rankings even if he may not be the fastest bowler in the world.

Mohammad Amir

Fastest bowler in the world

The early days of Mohammad Amir’s time in international cricket were not great. He was consistently giving out runs while not picking up a lot of wickets.

However, the World Cup 2019 proved to be a decisive change in his career. In the initial days, the left-arm pacer used to hit an average speed of around 145 kph. However, his speed went down once he started focusing more on being accurate with his line and length. Even then, he can still be explosive when it needs to be and it was proven with his fastest ball hitting a record of 151.9 kph.

The left-hander from Punjab in Pakistan has had a troubled spell over the last few years with regards to match-fixing and poor form. He has been out of international cricket since 2020 even if he has recently opened up on his desire to come back to the national team fold.

The retirement from initial cricket came just over a year after he announced his retirement from test cricket in 2019.

Umesh Yadav

fastest bowler in the world

Umesh Yadav certainly fits the bill when it comes to the description of a fast bowler. He has been one of the fittest players on any cricket ground and this has been a decisive factor in helping him consistently overcome the 150 km/hr barrier that so many fast bowlers tend to struggle with.

The frequency with which Umesh Yadav hit 150+ km/hr increased during the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series against Sri Lanka in 2012. One particular delivery saw him hit a speed of 152.5 kph, as he was able to produce a huge penchant for bowling in the higher speed bracket on a consistent basis.

Even though India has its own share of players who have tried to become the fastest bowler in the world, they have frequently struggled in Indian conditions. However, Umesh Yadav is one player who even pushes through even in the heat of the Indian subcontinent. The paceman from Nagpur in India has not only excelled in the limited overs format but he also consistently shines in the test format as well.

FAQs

  • When and where did Shoaib Akhtar deliver his fastest ball?

Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar was able to record his fastest ball in 2002 in a match against New Zealand. Akhtar was able to hit a whopping 161.3 kph.

  • Who is the fastest bowler in the IPL up until 2022?

Shaun Tait holds the record for the fastest IPL ball bowled so far. The Rajasthan Royals bowler was able to hit 157.71 kph in 2011.

  • Who is the world's fastest bowler?

Shoaib Akhtar is the fastest bowler in the world. The Pakistan speedster bowled his fastest delivery in the 2003 Cricket World Cup against England.

  • Who is the fastest bowler in the world in ?

Among the current crop of fast bowlers, Mitchell Starc is the fastest bowler in . The likes of Anrich Nortje and Jofra Archer have also shown the potential to cross the 100 mph barrier in the future.

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