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Tait takes place among sultans of speed

Retired tearaway topped by only the Rawalpindi Express as the quickest bowler of all time

With Shaun Tait officially retiring from all forms of the game, we've looked at where the slingy speedster from the Adelaide Hills ranks among the quickest bowlers of all time. 

While the introduction of speed guns to the sport have at times added as much controversy as clarity, at the very least they have provided us with a means by which we can measure the game's true speed freaks, and revel in their ability to crank things up a notch on any given day. 

Tait, in his pomp, was as quick as just about anyone. 

Below are the 10 fastest bowlers of all time, as rated by their respective fastest recorded deliveries. 

1) 161.3kph: Shoaib Akhtar v England in 2003 at Newlands

From the Vault: Shoaib sizzles at the Gabba

No less a judge than Ricky Ponting rated a spell from Shoaib Akhtar at the WACA in 1999 as the quickest he ever faced; and the Rawalpindi Express built his career on extreme speed like few before or since. Those from Pakistan will invariably rate him as the quickest of them all, and the speed gun agrees.

2) 161.1kph: Shaun Tait v England in 2010 at Lord's

Is this the quickest over of the Big Bash?

Tait burst onto the scene as a raw 21-year-old tearaway when he took 65 wickets in the 2004-05 Sheffield Shield season, playing two Tests in the epic '05 Ashes in the year that followed. While his career was blighted by injuries, he was a force to be reckoned with at the 2007 World Cup and became a T20 gun for hire in his later years. 

3) 161.1kph: Brett Lee v NZ in 2005 in Napier

From the Vault: Brett Lee destroys India

'Bing' Lee was so fast that, upon laying eyes on his express pace at Shield level, Steve Waugh demanded his selection in his Test team. Sure enough, Lee took five wickets on debut against India and went on to enjoy a glittering career in Test and ODI cricket, with speed regularly his chief weapon.

4) 160.6kph: Jeff Thomson, study in 1976 at the WACA


Like Tait, 'Thomo' benefited from his highly unusual slingshot action, which allowed him to generate extreme pace. Tales abound of Thomson's feats with red missile in hand, and any player who played in the '70s or even '80s swears blind there's been no-one as quick since. 

5. 160.4kph: Mitchell Starc v NZ in 2015 at the WACA

Starc bowls 160kph delivery against NZ

Starc has hit his straps in recent years, as the once gangly teen has added considerable bulk to his frame to form a particularly athletic fast bowler. The left-armer produced a sizzling spell against the Kiwis in the summer of 2015-16, at one point shocking everyone when the speed gun clocked him at 160.4kph.

6) 159.5kph: Andy Roberts v Aus in 1975 at the WACA

According to the speed gun, Roberts goes down as the quickest West Indian of them all. That's quite a feat when you consider the likes of Wes Hall, Malcom Marshall, Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose have all represented the Caribbean archipelago. When he hit 100 Test wickets after two-and-a-half years, he was the quickest in Test history to do so, and many of those victims had succumbed to his extreme pace.

7) 157.7kph: Fidel Edwards v SA in 2004 at The Wanderers


When Edwards emerged as a lightning-quick paceman, hopes were raised in the Caribbean that he was a throwback to their glory era. Like Lee, he was spotted by a legend - in his case, Brian Lara - and rushed to the top level after just one first-class match. Five wickets in his first Test and six in his first ODI only added to the excitement, and while he had a chequered career thereafter, there were flashes of brilliance, and of course, outright pace.

8) 156.8kph: Mitchell Johnson v Eng in 2013 at the MCG

The Inner Circle: Mitch's reflections

Johnson was famously picked out by Dennis Lillee as a 'once-in-a-generation' fast bowler and it's likely that plenty of that assessment had to do with sheer pace. The tearaway from Townsville became Australia's premier paceman after the retirement of Lee, culminating in his demolition job of England in the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash, when blistering speed and hostility nabbed him 37 wickets in five Tests.

9) 156.4kph: Mohammad Sami v Zim in 2003 in Sharjah


Rumours flew when Sami's international career was launched that he was one of the quickest on the planet, and he picked up five wickets on Test debut to ensure the reputation was enhanced. Boasting hat-tricks in Test and ODI cricket, Sami made his mark on international cricket but as far as Pakistan fans are concerned, his impact was all too brief.

10) 156.4kph: Shane Bond v Ind in 2003 in Centurion


New Zealand's fastest-ever bowler and one of the best they ever produced as well, Bond's career was routinely affected and ultimately cut short by injuries. The right-arm express quick was a devastating prospect on his day, and seemed to particularly relish playing Australia; he took 44 wickets at 15.79 in 17 ODIs against his cross-Tasman rivals.