Fast bowling or Pace bowling is one of the two broad styles of bowling the other being spin bowling. Fast bowlers deliver the ball at high speed and velocity. The speed of a classic fast ball ranges between 136 km/h to 150 km/h. Wasim Akram, Kapil Dev, Courtney Walsh, Shane Bond etc are examples of fast bowlers.
Comfortably the most popular, if not necessarily the most successful, type of bowling in the sport, it’s an extremely broad term which unsurprisingly refers to the policy of using pace to challenge the batsman. This approach has existed as long as the sport itself, and no team is complete without at least three pacemen.
Fast bowling has also been at the heart of most of cricket’s most significant periods – from the infamous ‘Bodyline’ Ashes series of 1932-1933 through to the great West Indian sides of the late 1970s and 1980s and, more recently, the emergence of reverse swing as a pivotal weapon. Even England have a pedigree of fast bowling, contributing greats like Sydney Barnes, Alec Bedser, Fred Trueman and Ian Botham.
However, fast bowling is about more than just pace. The general aim may be to bowl the ball at pace to generate bounce and capitalise on any imperfections in the pitch, but there is more to it than that. As well as the immense physical demands, fast bowling requires excellent technique and a whole host of skills beyond mere pace.
The ability to bowl at 90 miles per hour is a great advantage but, as the career of Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar (who delivered the fastest ball in history at 100.2 miles per hour in 2003) will show you, it isn’t everything. To be a decent fast bowler is to play intelligently with great technique and plenty of variety.