The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shoaib fires, but then who cares

Johannesburg: Tearaway Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar learnt to his dismay Sunday that cracking the 100-miles an hour barrier to bowl the fastest ball in history was not worth the effort.

Shoaib was clocked at 161.3 kmh (100.23 mph) when he bowled to England’s Nick Knight in his fourth over of the World Cup match at Newlands Saturday.

The feat barely created a ripple, the rest of his spell was plundered all over the park, his team lost and the ICC dismissed it as if it never happened.

When Shoaib left Newlands after the match, fans patted him on the back — for his batting heroics at No. 11 where he top-scored with a blazing 43 off 16 balls with three sixes and five fours.

Does any one care for the fastest bowler in the world'

The ball to Vaughan was the fastest recorded in history, surpassing pace rival Brett Lee’s 159.93 kmh thunderbolt at the same venue during a Test match against South Africa last year.

But Shoaib’s figures of one for 63 off nine mediocre overs left him and his team disappointed as England cruised to a 112-run victory.

“I bowled really badly,” Shoaib conceded later. “What is the use of bowling the quickest ball ever if the team loses the match,” he quipped.

The 27-year-old revealed he had told teammates before the game that he would break the 100 mph-barrier in the match.

“I remember telling coach Richard Pybus and captain Waqar Younis I would do it today,” Shoaib said.

“I’m pleased with that delivery. I bowled it with a different action, taking the arm right back to get more power.”

Fast bowling is a spectator’s delight, but it does not go down in the record books as speed guns are regarded to be inconsistent.

Moreover, there were no speed guns when Harold Larwood, Charlie Griffith, Jeff Thomson or Michael Holding terrorised batsmen with pace. Any of them could have been as quick as Shoaib. Thomson, the fiery Australian, was timed at 160.5 kmh (99.8 mph) at a special nets session in 1975 soon after he and Dennis Lillee had ripped England apart in an Ashes series.

Shoaib himself was credited with a speed of 161kmh (100.04mph) during a ODI against New Zealand at Lahore last year, but the speed gun’s findings were not taken seriously.

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