Why WPL’s Claim That Ellyse Perry Smashed The Fastest Ball Record In Women’s Cricket Is Almost Certainly Nonsense

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have claimed that legendary Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry bowled the fastest delivery in women’s cricket history in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League – here’s why that’s almost certainly not true.

RCB have had a rough start to their WPL campaign, with their first five matches ending in losses. Their sixth game though, provided some relief to the RCB fans as they registered their first victory of the season. Apart from the victory, there was another significant event that caught the eye of the public in general and the RCB fans in particular.

Perry was bowling her third over, the 16th of the UP Warriorz innings. She had bowled brilliantly up until that point, conceding just eight runs in 16 deliveries and picking two wickets. The fifth ball of the over was another well-directed back-of-length delivery which Sophie Ecclestone pulled to mid-wicket for two runs. The speed gun clocked it at 130.5 kph (81 mph) .

Shabnim Ismail very recently broke the record for the fastest ball ever bowled in women’s cricket. She had clocked 128 kph (80 mph) against England in the semifinal of the Women’s T20 World Cup, which was held just before the WPL. There was widespread adulation for her feat. It is not normal for bowling speeds to touch 80 mph in women’s cricket.

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It didn’t take much time for the RCB social media team to put up a post congratulating Perry on her achievement.

The WPL site also showed Perry’s ball as the fastest ball of the tournament.

How likely is it though, that a mark which had not been breached since speed data has been used in women’s cricket until a month ago, has now been broken by two veteran fast bowlers who are well into the second half of their careers?

Perry has been regarded as one of the finest and fittest athletes in the women’s game for a long time now. But she has never reportedly come close to the 130 kph mark before. In the Women’s T20 World Cup where Ismail breached the 80 mph barrier, Perry’s fastest ball was recorded at 126.2 kph, which translates to 78.4 mph. It may well be one of her fastest ever, but it’s not as if she has been consistently hitting that mark either. A majority of her recorded speeds this year as seen on TV have been below 120 kph.

The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that the speed gun was not at its most accurate on the night of the game where she supposedly broke the record. Perhaps the broadcasters recognised that too after the Perry delivery, as bowling speeds were not shown on the screen throughout the rest of the match.

There have been numerous such incidents in the past where the speed gun has malfunctioned, leading to rather comical scenes and reactions. Sri Lanka’s Matheesha Pathirana was shown to have bowled a 175 kph thunderbolt in the 2020 U19 World Cup against India while England’s Lauren Bell had apparently sent down a 107 mph delivery against India last year.

The speeds shown in these cases were so extreme that it was evident from the word go that they were the result of a faulty speed gun. Perry’s ‘fastest ball’ being clocked at a not-so-extreme 130 kph has made it much more believable. While the fastest ball graphic can no longer be seen on the WPL site, RCB haven’t taken down their post which claims Perry to have bowled the fastest delivery in women’s cricket. Ideally they should, for it is almost certainly not true.

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