Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar aka ‘Rawalpindi Express’ reveals the exact training he had to achieve his 161.3 kph delivery.
Training Behind Shoaib Akhtar’s Fastest Ball
The Pakistani speedster still holds the record for the fastest delivery in international cricket. On February 22, 2003, during the match against England in Cape Town Akhtar clocked a speed of 161.3 kph which remains unbeaten till date.
Speaking to a media, Akhtar recalled how he had geared up to break the 100 mph barrier. “When you touch 155 kph as a bowler, remember that you have another 5 kph inside you. However, adding that extra pace to your bowling requires specific training.
Before I broke the 100 miles record, I was bowling at speeds of 157-158 kph but I was not able to reach 160. I was a bit baffled over the same, wondering why it was not happening,” he said.
The former Pakistan cricketer further revealed the details of his specific training which included pulling vehicles and trucks at night before shifting to practicing in 26 yards of pitch and bowling with old and worn-out balls.
“I began by running with tires but soon realized that they are light. Next, I started pulling small vehicles with my shoulders. There is less public in Islamabad, so I used to pull vehicles in the night. I used to match its speed with the pace of my run-up. I realized that the vehicle is also small, so I started pulling a truck. I used to pull a truck for 4-5 miles.
“When I bowled on 26-yard strips, my speed came down to 142-143 kph. But my aim remained to touch 150 kph on 26-yard surfaces. My muscles were in great shape back then and I started bowling with old, worn-out balls. I was aiming to hit the wickets with those old balls.
“I gradually moved back to bowling with comparatively newer balls. I was playing with the mechanics of the body. This procedure went on for two months and I started hitting 150 kph.”
Akhtar revealed that by the time the 2003 World Cup had arrived, he was so confident that he could break the record that he even told his teammates about it, who were in fact scared after facing him at the nets.
“When I bowled in the nets during the 2003 World Cup, batters were telling me – ‘you’ll kill us, you are bowling so quick. What have you done to increase your speed so much?’ I told them that I have trained very hard because I want to break the 100-miles barrier.
“I told my teammates Saqlain (Mushtaq) and Azhar (Mahmood) that I will break the record in the World Cup,” he said.
Akhtar did not want to stop their, but his body could only permit to a limit.
“After I touched 161.3 kph, I thought I could bowl even quicker. But then I started getting cracks in my body – in my back, in my hamstring. I thought I would break down and get ruled out of the World Cup, so I left it at that.”
Bowler who can break Shoaib Akhtar’s record for fastest delivery?
Indian cricketer Parvez Rasool has opined that the Jammu and Kashmir express pacer Umran Malik will break former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar’s fastest delivery record pretty soon.
Even Akhtar himself says that he will be happy if Umran breaks his record. But Akhtar warns Umran Malik to look after his fitness in order to stay away from injuries which can halt his career.