Shoaib Akhtar is definitely the fastest bowler ever to bowl in Cricket.

Frame by frame comparison of two quick deliveries by two of the fastest bowlers of all time Shoaib Akhtar and Jeff Thomson, let see who is the winner, this video shows who the fastest bowler in the world is, and refutes the notion that Jeff Thomson is the fastest bowler of all time, Jeff Thomson aka (Thommo) claims to be a “180 km/hour bowler”.

To those who would complain that “one random Thommo delivery vs Shoaib’s fastest ever (on video)” you can just pipe down. I went frame by frame through many deliveries from Thommo that he delivered during 74/75 series against MCC and the 75/76 series against the West Indies. This (video) was the fastest Thommo delivery I could find. According to newspapers reports of that time in the 75/76 series against West Indies, Thommo was felt to be faster than in the previous year, but very unfortunately there isn’t much video footage left of that series as much of it was lost by the broadcaster.

Also this is not a precise comparison, but what this video is trying to show is that Thommo was never a 110 miles/hour or 180 km/hour bowler which many Australian have claimed and even Thommo has claimed it many time. He was measured, very accurately at 160.45 km/hour (or 99.79 miles/hour) during the Perth Test match. That was his release speed, NOT the speed at the batsman’s end. The University of Western Australia set-up a high speed cine camera aligned to the bowling crease at each end of the pitch. They measured many deliveries from Thomson, Lillee, Roberts and Holding.

Thommo’s two fastest deliveries were 160.45 km/hour and 159.49 km/hour. Andy Roberts was 2nd quickest with his fastest they measured was 150.67 km/hour. Michael Holding’s fastest was 148.54 km/hour. Lillee was ill and nowhere near his best. So Thommo was, on that day in Perth, in a different league to the others.

The myth that his 160.45 km/hour speed was measured at the batsman’s end has grown up from the fact that the speeds were measured at both ends during the Perth test. But that 160.45 km/hour delivery was only doing around 130 km/hour at the batsman’s end after bouncing off the pitch. All these measurements and a description of the process are very well described in Dennis Lillee’s 1978 book “The Art of Fast Bowling”.

To those who claim “that old technology wasn’t as accurate” the Photo-Sonics cameras they used took frames at up to 500 per second controlled by a digital phase locked loop. So they were very accurate and very expensive.

Jeff Thomson’s unique action allied to his strength and physique made him a true phenomenon. But by modern standards he didn’t do much in the way of training (unlike Dennis Lillee who overcame a lower back injury through dedication and self-discipline). It is interesting to speculate how fast he could have been within a modern scientific training regime. He was a fearsome bowler and those who were lucky enough to see him live would vouch for the face that he was very fearsome sight for many batsmen of his era, but I think the hyperbolic claims of him bowling over 110+ miles/hour don’t really do credit to him and are not needed.

Concluding remarks would be that both bowlers are greats of their eras, but we must understand that Shoaib Akthar terrorised the batsmen when the conditions were more favourable to batsmen, whereas Thommo terrorised when there were no such restrictions on fast bowlers. Today you get to see many rules, field restrictions, bouncer restrictions, wide-balls, no-balls, free hit and few more and all these favour the batsman not the bowler.




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