Originally Posted by faisal15
According to late cricket historian, and probably the most prominent cricket writer ever, Sir Neville Curdus, One of the great and glorious sights in cricket is a fast bowler in full flight and power.
Truly there are very few things greater in the planet than to observe a fast bowler in full flow. And if that bowler is the type who leaves the batsmen bamboozled only by his sheer pace there is nothing more graceful than that.
Many fearsome fast bowlers have emerged in the 127-year history of cricket. However, to decide upon who is the fastest bowler ever is an entirely different argument altogether. It is actually impossible to say who was the fastest or who is the fastest ever bowler. These days ICC and other cricket institutions are using speed-guns regularly in the matches to measure the speeds of bowlers. Shoaib Akhter of Pakistan is the first bowler in history to touch the 100-mile speed barrier thanks to modern technology. He is thus being hailed the fastest bowler ever. However, what would become of the numerous fast bowlers of the past, and there speeds, which were never measured in actual match conditions.
To measure the fastest bowlers of Test cricket history we must depend on cricket historians and the observation of the batsmen who have faced them on various occasions.
It all started with the Bodyline series between Australia and England in 1932-33. The then England captain Sir Doglus Jardine instructed his fast-bowling twins Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to hurl the ball at the Australians� rib cages while packing the leg side with fieldsmen. The two fast men attacked the body around middle and leg compelling the Australians to sky catches, in face of sustained hostility, on the leg-side region. But then it was intimidatory bowling especially by Larwood. He banged the ball short, aimed at the body of the batsmen at such speed, notably at Sir Donald Bradman, that he and the other Australian batsmen had very little chances to survive those expresss thunderbolts. When talking about the fast bowlers Sir Don said in an interview �Larwood was the best bowler I have ever faced and certainly he was one of the quickest, however, the fastest bowler I have ever faced was Frank �Typhoon� Tyson of England, the man who really turned the Australian dressing room into a mourning room. The Englishmen inflicted upon the Australians great misery in the �Ashes� series in Australia in the early fifties. His deliveries would storm past your whiskers like a flash of lighting. Recent Western Australia university estimates that Frank at peak bowled in excess of 168kph.
Miller and Lindwall were quick and almost impossible to face when in full cry.
The West Indian pace battery of Hall, Griffith, Gilchrist did not allow any batsman of that era to breathe freely under the vault of heaven. Griffith and Gilchrist did not play long enough but Hall certainly did torment the hapless batsman with his hostile bowling.
According to Australian Cricket historian Richey Benaud, Hall is the fastest ever bowler he had seen. I would rank Hall faster then Shoaib Akhtar.
John Snow of England emerged in the early 1970s to mould his opponents like wax. His fiery seven-wicket spell in the final Test of the Ashes series in 1970-71 at Sydney will be talked about for ages to come. He almost sent Australian spinner Terry Jenner to his great grandfathers knocking him flat on the ground and making the top order Australian shudder, shiver and sweat in the flannels.
But perhaps the mid-70s to 80s will be remembered in supreme for that rush of fast bowlers everywhere on earth. As Imran has said, �there were never so many fine fast bowlers playing at one time as there was between 1976 and 1986.� That tradition is still going on.
Dennis Lillee was the uncrowned prince heading the fast bowling federation in the mid-70s till he decided to hang up his cricket spikes. Lillee had the making of an ideal fast bowler. He had pace, variety, mechanical control over the ball, movement and above all a classical action. He was the most dreaded of all demons who dwelt on the earth in the 1970s and beyond. His pace was such that once Majid Khan top edged one of his menacing bouncers in the Test of the 1976-77 series, and the ball sailed over the heads of square leg fielders and disappeared deep among the throng of spectators.
The West Indians produced a replica of Lillee in the form of Antiguan express bowler Andy Roberts. Grant Lee Rieza writes in his famed book Fat and Furious about Andy Roberts: �Roberts was menacingly quick even when he seemed to be dawdling rather than scurrying to the wicket. His immense strength and suppleness produced deliveries of rare speed. He single handedly destroyed Australia at Perth in 1975-76. He could easily disguise his speed and yet produce the surprise package, whenever and whatever required�.
For many, Lillee�s fast bowling partner Jeff Thompson is the fastest bowler ever. He had a slinging javelin throw action that conveniently sent a chill down the marrows of illustrious willow wilders. His speed was known to be pushing 100 mph and beyond and he took most of his wickets on sheer speed rather than movement or anything crafty.
I must mention some examples of his bowling speed. After the famous 1974-75 Ashes Series journalists questioned their legendary wicket keeper Rodney Marsh on who was quicker between Lilllee and Thompson? Without wasting a second Marsh answered in favour of Thompson. �Tommo is faster than Dennis even against the air. That�s unbelievable!�
Lillee was at the pick of his speed at that time. In the same series during the Sydney Test Australian slip cordon and the wicketkeeper were standing 36 meters behind the wicket when Thompson was bowling. Never before, or till today, for any bowler, has no slip fielder or wicketkeeper stood so far behind.
Quite remarkable! In tandem with Lillee in 1974-75, he reduced the Englishmen to Ashes who could find no respite to prolong their innings that summer.
Michael Holding of West Indies is for most of the fast-bowling historians the fastest bowler ever in the history of Test cricket till today, though many think that such statements are pretty close to exaggeration. He was diabolically quick and gave an ocular demonstration of it in the Oval Test in 1976 on a featherbed wicket where the West Indians scored 687 runs.
Holding took 14 wickets in the Test. Most of his bemused victims were bowled before they got their bat down. It is said that no other bowler in the honourable history of Test cricket gathered this kind of speed through air. According to famous England opener Geoff Boycott, Holding is the fastest bowler he has ever faced. And, for Imran Khan, Holding was fastest bowler he had ever seen.
Malcolm Marshall, in spite of his short structure, could put his opponents in a perpetual tangle but he certainly was not the fastest of them all. He had the most variation among all the fastest bowlers in cricket history. He had nine varieties in his bowling. That is why he was called �Marshall the Ninja�. Once Gavaskar told journalists during the 1983 Calcutta Test that the first ball he faced from Marshall in the match was the fastest ever.
Imran was shockingly quick in his heydays and his great exhibition of fast bowling in Sydney in 1976-77 prompted Chappell to say, I rate his bowling at Sydney ahead of England�s John Snow. During the 1981 Test series, in Australia, Ian Chappell surprisingly commented that Imran is the fastest bowler he had ever seen. Even faster than Thompson. During the 1982-83 Test series against India, Imran was at his peak as a bowler. During the series he invented the new art of fast bowling �The in-dipper�. An in-dipper is a 90 mp/h spinning delivery, which comes to the batsmen from almost two-and-a-half feet outside the pitch, and almost ends on the wicket. Quite a remarkable thing to do. Sunil Gavaskar, arguably the greatest opening batsman ever at that time, said, �the only way to play Imran will be to put the screen between Imran and the Indian batsmen,� coming from Gavaskar, Imran should be proud.
During the 90s, without a doubt, Waqar Younis of Pakistan and Allan Donald of South Africa emerged as the fastest bowlers in the world. In the famous and one of the most controversial series ever against England in 1992, Waqar is bowling speed-raised questions among the fast-bowling historians.
Is he the fastest ever! One of the historians Brian Johnston proudly claimed that Waqar is the fastest ever among the bowlers who have bowled in England. However, the most remarkable quote came from former Englands famous Test Umpire Dickie Bird.
I have seen most of the fastest bowlers in the history of cricket by standing as an umpire but among them without a doubt Waqar is the fastest. I have never seen anyone generate such sheer pace through the air while bowling. Even when the English press and players accused him for ball-doctoring England great Geoffrey Boycott told the press that Waqar could even destroy the English batting line-up if he bowls with an orange.
Allan Donald of South Africa was so quick that he was nicknamed as White Lightning.
Australian Captain Mark Taylor rated him ahead of Waqar in terms of speed.
Thus it is in fact impossible to determine the fastest bowlers, as you must take into account such aspects as the type of pitch each bowler is bowling on. The direction of the wind, the weather conditions all play into the speed factor.
While the speed clock claims that the new crop of Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhter are the fastest, players who have faced them and past players, have said otherwise. It all depends on the man who stands on the wrong end of the 22 yards and the surrounding environment around them.
To accurately assess each bowler, they would have to be bowling on the same pitch, under the same conditions, on the same day.