Six of the fastest bowlers in the world set for battle in South Africa-Australia Test series

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Starc is the quickest bowler in the world.

The four Test series between South Africa and Australia, which starts on Thursday in Durban, will see one of the biggest group of genuine fast bowlers ever assembled on a cricket field.

The famed pace attack of West Indies on the 1970s had at least five out and out fast bowlers in the squad at any given time and even Pakistan had at least two serious genuine quicks in the team across decades. However, very rarely has the game witnessed such a high quality of fast bowlers of a major series.

Here we list the fast bowlers from both camps on the basis of top pace achieved in their career. Batsmen, best of luck.

MITCHELL STARC (AUS)

Top speed: 160.4 kph (99.6mph)

Reaction time for batsman: 0.39 seconds

Currently, the fastest bowler in the world. The Aussie left-arm quick is one of half a dozen fast bowlers who have been clocked at 160 kph. Not only does Starc bowl super quick, he swings the new and old ball, generates reverse swing and has a mean yorker. A near perfect action with a highest possible release point. Who wants to be a batsman?

KAGISO RABADA (SA)

Top speed: 151 kph

Reaction time: 0.42 seconds

The 22-year-old fast bowler is at the absolute peak of his bowling form and fitness. The right arm quick can match Starc for speed, bounce and swing. Plus, he has an amazing cricketing brain and can increase or decrease his pace depending upon the match situation. One of the best of his generation.

PAT CUMMINS (AUS)

Top speed: 151 kph

Reaction time: 0.42 seconds

The Aussie fast bowler has battled injuries throughout his short career. But whenever fit, Cummins has never bowled at less than 100 per cent. Has started to stitch together back-to-back matches without breaking down completely. Rose to prominence after man of the match performance on his Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011.

LUNGI NGIDI (SA)

Top speed: 151kph

Reaction time: 0.42 seconds

The find of the season for the Proteas. Ngidi has an easy run up and release but bowls at a tremendous pace, clocking speeds of over 145kph even in his second and third spells. However, since he has just started his career, his body might not be used to long spells of high intensity especially after a demanding series against India.

Ngidi has been the find of the season for South Africa.

Ngidi has been the find of the season for South Africa.

MORNE MORKEL (SA)

Top speed: 147kph

Reaction time: 0.43 seconds

The South African bowler has announced his international retirement following the Test series. Has battled serious back injury with question marks over his career last year but did well again India after starting to bowl a lot fuller. Pace not quite what it used to be but still capable of bowling over 140kph all day.

Morkel will retire after the Test series.

Morkel will retire after the Test series.

JOSH HAZLEWOOD (AUS)

Top speed: 146 kph

Reaction time: 0.43 seconds

The Aussie pacer started off as more of a line and length bowler but has added a couple of yards to his pace. Arguably the most dangerous bowler in the Test series as he maintains his pace and gives absolutely nothing away. The glue that holds Australia’s attack together.

NOTE: Distance between batsman and bowler from point of release of the ball calculated at 17.6m.

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Ben Stokes puts in man of the match display as England level ODI series

Sport360 staff 28/02/2018
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All-rounder Ben Stokes set aside his off-field troubles to steer England to a six-wicket win in the second one-day international against New Zealand on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance in just his second appearance for England since being sidelined over a nightclub incident five months ago.

Stokes took two wickets for 42 then hit an unbeaten 63 as England easily chased down New Zealand’s target of 224 at Mount Maunganui.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be back in amongst the team with all the lads and even the backroom staff. I was a bit emotional walking off that field,” he said after England levelled the five-match series 1-1.

“I hope this is a stepping stone for things to come in the future, the things that we’ve got coming up.”

Asked if he felt under pressure, Stokes replied: “When I walked out there it was the normal feeling that I get when I walk out there.

“The one thing I wanted was to be back and walking out there and representing my country.

“It’s all about building for the future. We’ve got a really busy summer coming up. It’s great to be back with the boys.”

Stokes judged that his bowling performance was rusty after only his second game for England since September, with the first coming in the opening ODI which ended in defeat to New Zealand in Hamilton.

He said: “Nothing replicates match bowling – you can’t get that in training. Hopefully I’ve got those cobwebs out.

“The batting feels in good order and the bowling will come with time.”

Trent Boult made early inroads as New Zealand tried to defend their modest total, dislodging Jason Roy for eight and Joe Root for nine.

Jonny Bairstow made a rapid-fire 37, then Morgan and Stokes dug in for an 88-run partnership that had England at 144 for three after 25 overs.

Morgan notched his first ODI 50 in 11 innings off 48 balls before departing on 62 before Stokes brought up 50 off 54 balls with a six edged over the keeper’s head.

Earlier, Black Cap spinner Mitchell Santner scored his maiden limited overs half-century as the New Zealand tail to give the home team’s score some respectability.

Santner’s unbeaten 63 off 52 balls was the highlight of New Zealand’s innings, with in-form opener Martin Guptill also scoring 50.

But a superb fielding display from England saw New Zealand bowled out for 223 with two balls remaining.

England pulled off a string of sharply taken catches and ran out four batsman, ensuring that every chance their bowlers created resulted in a wicket.

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Chris Woakes happy to put last over in Hamilton behind him ahead of second ODI

Sport360 staff 27/02/2018
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Consistent performer: Chris Woakes has been a mainstay in the ODI set-up.

Chris Woakes has the self-confidence to bounce back from the disappointment of a near miss and prove England’s one-day international campaign against New Zealand is very much still on the rails.

Woakes could be forgiven mixed feelings at the weekend as, five days before his 29th birthday, he completed a rare ODI double of 100 wickets and 1,000 runs – yet finished on the losing side as he failed to stop big-hitting Mitch Santner putting the hosts 1-0 up.

Only three other Englishmen have previously reached Woakes’ new all-round milestone – and the names of Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood demonstrate he has reached elite company.

For all that, he could not even come close to defending nine from the last over in Hamilton on Sunday when Santner smashed him for six to complete a three-wicket win with four balls to spare.

Faint heart has not got Woakes this far, however, and he has no doubt England can level the five-match series at the Bay Oval on Wednesday.

“We know we’ve gone behind in series before and come back strongly,” he said.

“I think we’ve got the characters in the dressing-room to know that the other day wasn’t a train smash by any means.”

If it is down to him to keep England in the series, he will relish the challenge again.

“Definitely,” he said.

“You put yourself in that position to try and win the game.

“There have been times when you come through it and you bowl that last over and you’re the hero.

“There are other times when it goes against you.”

How many runs would he like to play with, though?

“You’d ideally want 10 or more, just to give you that one bad ball or one that’s nicked for four.

“Nine, you still back yourself to defend – unfortunately we didn’t do it.”

TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 27: England bowler Chris Woakes in action during nets ahead of the 2nd ODI at the Bay Oval on February 27, 2018 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Chris Woakes bowls in the nets ahead of the second ODI in Tauranga.

Win or lose here, Woakes’ talents are already sufficiently renowned to have bagged him a return stint in this year’s lucrative Indian Premier League.

This time, it will be on an £800,000 contract for Royal Challengers Bangalore – where he plans to continue to learn plenty but spend little of the riches on offer.

“As cricketers, we are very lucky to earn a good salary anyway,” said Woakes.

“I suppose to earn footballers’ wages from an Englishman’s point of view, for six weeks, is nice.

“(But) I’m probably more on the cautious side of things.

“You try and prepare for life after cricket – it’s a short career, and God knows what the future holds.

“So I definitely look to save more than splash the cash.”

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