There are few more engaging sights in cricket than a fast bowler and a top-quality batsman going head to head out in the middle.
The technique required by both to deliver their aims in such a situation is tremendous with the bowler’s need to find accuracy not easy when they are straining every sinew to hurl the ball down the wicket at the fastest possible speed.
For a batsman, the faster the ball comes the less reaction time they have and make no bones about it, getting struck by a cricket ball is not pleasant at the best of times.
Plenty of batsmen have said that no matter how good they are, they don’t enjoy facing bowlers who can reach speeds of 90mph and beyond, despite the bluff and bravado out in the middle.
So who have been the quickest bowlers to have graced the game? Here are the top five.
5. Mitchell Starc – 99.7mph / 160.4kph
Mitchell Starc may not have initially been thought of as the quickest of recent Australians, having been in the same attack as the terroriser of England, Mitchell Johnson, but it is Starc who has been clocked just shy of 100pmh, with Johnson’s best at 97.4mph.
Renowned for toe-breaking yorkers, Starc delivered his near-100mph missile in the second Test between Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
The left-arm paceman will be hoping to add to his haul of 255 Test wickets in the Ashes series against England, which starts later this year.
4. Jeff Thomson – 99.8mph / 160.6kph
The second of an Australian dominated list comes in the shape of Jeff Thomson, who was the chief terroriser the world over during his playing career from 1972-1985.
The Sydney-born paceman managed to hit the 200-wicket barrier in the last of his 51 Tests, with injuries hampering his career to a degree, with his fastest delivery bowled against West Indies in Perth in 1975.
Thomson formed a terrifying partnership with Dennis Lillee for Australia and took 33 wickets in the Ashes series against England in 1974-75.
3. Brett Lee – 99.9mph / 160.8kph
Brett Lee has almost hit the 100mph mark but only makes third place in the list, while he reached fourth in the all-time list of Australia wicket-takers with 310 wickets in 76 Tests.
Another paceman to struggle with injuries, Lee was still rapid throughout his all-format career, with his fastest ever delivery recorded against New Zealand in Napier in 2005.
2. Shaun Tait – 100.1mph / 161.1kph
Shaun Tait may have lacked the control that other Australians on this list enjoyed but he can at least lay claim to being the fastest of the lot, having been clocked at 100mph+ against England at Lord’s in 2010.
Tait only featured in three Tests for the Baggy Greens but was a regular one-day and Twenty20 player for his country, when fit, but ultimately injuries took their toll in a relatively short career.
1. Shoaib Akhtar – 100.2mph / 161.3kph
And the fastest of them all is known as the Rawalpindi Express with Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar the first man to break the 100mph mark with his best rocket delivered against England in Cape Town in the 2003 World Cup.
Sadly, that ball was bowled in a losing cause but multi-format ace Akhtar – who took 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 wickets in 163 ODIs – can take solace from the fact that he is the fastest bowler ever.
*All odds correct at time of writing