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Decoding the Fastest First Over of All Time

When we talk about express pacers, a lot of names come to mind. Today there’s Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Anrich Nortje, Haris Rauf and more. In the past, there was Shoaib Akhtar, Shaun Tait, and Shane Bond among others but one who managed to stand out amongst all of them owing to his insane longevity, adaptability and street smarts mixed with fury is Brett Lee.

What made Lee special other than the fact that he managed to take 700+ international wickets was the fact that he not only had so many gears as a bowler. He could go looking for the early swing by bowling in low 140s and high 130s while also being able to raise the heat with 95+ mph deliveries at almost any length, switching from a swing bowler to a seam bowler rather seamlessly.

So let’s have a look at one of such Brett Lee displays that left every viewer awestruck.

March 5th 2005, McLean Park, Napier

Australia had scored 347/5 in 50 overs thanks to 141(127) by Ricky Ponting and 91(69) by Adam Gilchrist against a solid New Zealand side.

Lee was given the responsibility to open the bowling in this game with the rookie Kiwi Opener Craig Cummins who had only played 12 ODIs for New Zealand facing him instead of the seasoned Nathan Astle. Lee looking for early wickets to kill off the Kiwi run-chase, bowled one of the fastest overs in the history of the sport.

First delivery, 143 kmph

Lee warmed up with a 143 clicks first delivery that was around good length at the 5th stump that Cummings left rather easily but his job was only going to get more difficult when you realize this was the slowest delivery of the over by a long shot.

Second delivery, 151 kmph

Lee corrected his mistake from the previous delivery and bowled a lot more in the stump line at an amped pace. Back of a length delivery at 3rd/4th stump rising steeply towards Cummings who could do nothing more than defend it meekly while being pushed onto his backfoot a bit.

Interestingly there was no semblance of movement off the pitch for Lee as of now.

Third delivery, 158 kmph

Lee continued from over the wicket as he had done for the first two deliveries, this time clocking 158 on the speed gun with a delivery that beat Cummings’ flick to hit him on the front foot around the middle and leg stump but given the angle, the ball would have carried on and missed the leg stump easily.

Fourth delivery, 158 kmph

After having pushed Cummings on the back foot and beaten him easily on the front foot, Lee finally went for the jugular with a yorker that clocked in at 158 kph. Unfortunately, the ball was at the 5th stumps where it went between the bat and the pad plus its very full length meant the ball would bounce on its way to Adam Gilchrist.

On a side note, the crowd went berserk when the announcer declared the ball to have clocked 158 kph.

Fifth delivery, 160 kmph

After a failed yorker attempt on the previous delivery, Lee decided to have another go at the yorker plan only to stray down the leg and concede a wide.

While his plan didn’t work, the crowd caught even more fire when they realized that the ball was at 160 kph, the first instance of the ball being bowled at 160 kph in New Zealand.

Sixth delivery, 161 kmph

Lee continued to stick to his guns, going for another yorker and just when it looked like he couldn’t go any faster, he clocked in at 161 kmph. Unfortunately, his Yorker again went a little haywire at the 5th stump line, going between the bat and pad again.

At this point, the over had seen only once the bat connecting with the ball, zero runs scored with the bat and the last deliveries were measured at 158, 158, 160, and 161 kmph.

Seventh delivery,158 kmph

Another delivery that full on the leg stump and the flick was outside edged towards the point and Cummings finally got off the mark.

This over had 7 deliveries, out of which Cummings could make contact with 2, the average speed in the over was almost 156 kph. Fair to say that this was Craig Cummings’ last ODI for New Zealand.

In this innings though, Cummings dragged himself to 13 off 24 before Lee got him out leg before. Obviously New Zealand got nowhere even close to chasing 348, getting bundled out for 225 in 50 overs.

A point to be noted is that the speed guns were not the best quality back in the 2000s and there is a case to be made for the over to not have been as fast as it was measured but looking at how comprehensively the batter was beaten by the pace, one can definitely vouch for the fact that pace was residing in the mid to high 150s region.

With the workload, injury management and other physical factors coming into play, it will probably be impossible for someone to bowl that fast in an international game making this over even more special.

Check out the video:

Credits: Rob Moody


About the Author: Aman Patel, A long-term viewer and student of the game. Specialises in cricket from the 2000s.

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