Fast bowlers are the lifeblood of any cricketing attack, entrusted with the job of attacking the top batmen of the other team. Because of modern training and conditioning techniques, most of the fastest bowlers on record are modern players. However, bowling speed is not measured in cricket in the same way that service speed is measured in tennis. This list is a collection of bowlers proven to be the fastest and those judged by experts to be the fastest.
The Pakistani pace man, otherwise known as the Rawalpindi Express, is widely regarded as the fastest bowler of all time, having had a delivery measured at 100.2 miles per hour.
Playing for Australia during the 1970s, Jeff Thompson was capable of bowling at about the same speed as Akhtar. During a bowling competition in 1978 he won with a delivery of 91.5 mph.
Pakistan has a long line of high-quality fast bowlers. Among the fastest is Mohammad Sami who was clocked bowling at 97.1 mph.
Brett Lee of Australia is considered not only one of the fastest, but also one of the best bowlers of all time. His fastest recorded delivery was marked at 97.8 mph.
Mornantau "Nantie" Haywood is a South African cricketer who was seen as the natural replacement to legend Allan Donald. However, Haywood has suffered from long-term injury problems and hasn't competed since 2004. His fastest delivery was clocked at 95.9 mph.
Sri Lanka is more noted for producing world-class spin bowlers than fast bowlers, but Lasitha Malinga has disproved this, being clocked at 96.7 mph.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the West Indies was dominant in world cricket thanks largely to its fast bowlers. Malcolm Marshall, at 5 feet 11 inches, was shorter than the average pace man, but was one of the fastest and most consistent at the time.
New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond is another who has suffered from a string of major injuries, but who had a delivery of 93.9 mph in 2001.
Taking more than 500 wickets in first class cricket puts bowlers in a unique class, but Courtney Walsh, along with fellow 6 feet 6 inch fast bowler Curtly Ambrose, was a step above for the West Indies during the 1980s and 1990s.
Michael Holding's nicknames, "Whispering Death" and the "Rolls-Royce of fast bowling," sum up the West Indian fast bowler's style. He is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers ever, although no official record exists of his delivery speed. A top player during the 1970s and 1980s, Holding retired in 1987.
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