In the early 2000s, cricket introduced speed guns to measure a fast bowler’s output. For a generation of bowlers, speed was a badge of honour. According to West Indian legend Michael Holding, England speedster Darren Gough would look at the speed gun all the time.
Pakistan’s Shoaib Akthar bowled the fastest delivery in cricket history at 161.3 km/h during the 2003 World Cup against England’s Nick Knight. It is a record that still stands 17 years later.
During the 13-year history of the IPL, the list of fastest deliveries has been dominated by SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries. There is a reason why teams like Kolkata dish out money like Rs. 15 crores for a bowler like Pat Cummins.
On the other hand, there was a mad scramble to replace Mitchell Starc after the left-arm fast bowler withdrew from the Bangalore outfit and the IPL tournament.
Here is a list of the top-10 fastest deliveries in the history of the IPL. While the names have changed over the years, these bowlers are still active in the IPL.
|POSITION||PLAYER NAME||SPEED (in km/hr)|
1. Anrich Nortje – Delhi brought in the South African as a replacement for all-rounder Chris Woakes in 2020. He not only leads this list but makes up five places on this list with 156.2 km/hr, 155.2 km/hr, 154.7 km/hr, and 154.2 km/hr, and 153.72 km/hr. The first three deliveries came in a game against Rajasthan (Match 30) in 2020. He went past the previous record held by his countryman Dale Steyn (154/4 km/hr)
2. Lockie Ferguson – Technically #5 on this list, Kolkata’s fast bowler with a short run-up bowled a delivery at 153.8 km/hr during the 2020 edition. In a game against Hyderabad, he bowled 27 balls, out of which 7 were more than 150 km/hr in speed. Ferguson came nine games into Kolkata’s campaign and nearly helped propel them to the playoffs
3. Jofra Archer – The Rajasthan right-arm fast bowler rounds up positions 6-10. His fastest delivery was 153.72km/hr, with the others being variations of 153km/hr. He spearheaded the bowling campaign despite his team finishing at the bottom of the league table.
Early attempts to record bowling in the 1950s used car speed guns. With the advent of technology, the obsession for speed is now central to the narrative of the game.
According to a few sources, though, there is a player who has bowled a delivery faster than any of Nortje’s. The story dates back to the 2011 IPL and involves Australia’s Shaun Tait, who was then playing for Rajasthan. He bowled a delivery clocked at 157.7 km/hr. However, the IPL website started to keep stats officially only after the 2011 season.There is going to be another revolution in the sport. Wearable devices will measure the athletes’ nerves and heart rate. This will help gauge perfect or near-perfect physical and mental conditions to replicate desired performance and form in the heat of the competition.
Would that then compromise on Aktar’s record? Would it also become a record broken and reset more frequently? The prospects are equally fascinating and terrifying at the same time.