What is Shoaib Akhtar's bowling speed world record?

Jake Nichol October 29, 2021
What is Shoaib Akhtar's bowling speed world record?
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images


Pakistani legend Shoaib Akhtar holds the bowling speed record, but what is it? And which Australian has Akhter pipped to top spot?

Shoaib Akhtar bowls cricket’s fastest ever ball

Akhtar, who played 46 Tests for Pakistan between 1997 and 2011 is known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express.’

It is taken from his birth place in Rawalpindi in Punjab.

After establishing himself in the team, Akhtar was selected for the 2003 ODI World Cup – the tournament being held in South Africa.

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During Pakistan’s group stage match against England at Newlands, Akhtar produced the fastest ball in the history of cricket.

Coming at the end of a maiden over to England batsman Nick Knight, Akhter delivered the ball at 161.3km/h.

It clocked in at 100.2mph and was enough to hand Akhtar the bowling speed record.

Knight steered the ball into the leg side for a dot.

This delivery in February 2003 followed on from one in April 2002 against New Zealand.

Akhtar topped 161km/h against Black Caps batsman Craig McMillan.

However, at the time the ICC did not award Akhtar the bowling speed record – owing to ambiguity over the speed.

His 161.3km/h effort to Knight is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Photo credit should read AFP/AFP via Getty Images

Who has Akhtar beaten to top spot in the bowling speed record charts?

Only one other bowler has ever officially topped 100mph with a delivery.

In second place behind Akhtar’s record is Shaun Tait.

During an ODI against England in 2010 at Lord’s, Tait’s over to skipper Andrew Strauss did not dip under 95mph.

His six deliveries read 97, 97, 96, 96, 100, 95 mph.

The fifth ball of the over was clocked at 100.1mph.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

That works out at 161.0km/h.

It was not quite enough to pip Shoaib Akhter’s world bowling speed record.

Akhtar and Tate are the only two bowlers to officially record a delivery over 100mph.

Tait’s ex-international Brett Lee came close to making it three members in the 100 club.

In 2005 at Napier against New Zealand, Lee sent one down at 160.8km/h.

Unluckily for him, that clocked in at 99.91 mph.

What about current players?

Of players still actively involved in cricket, it is Mitchell Starc who is fastest of all.

Like countrymen Tait and Lee, Starc clocked in at over 160km/h.

His ball came against New Zealand in a 2015 Test.

It registered at 160.4km/h – or 99.66 mph.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.