October 21, 2016

Is it a bird, or a 100mph delivery in Dunedin Test?

Neil Wagner of New Zealand bowls during day two of the first International Test cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at University Oval in Dunedin on 11 December 2015. Photo: AFP

Dunedin, New Zealand: A low-flying seagull was blamed for interfering with the speed gun on Friday when New Zealand’s Neil Wagner bowled a ball clocked at 160 kilometres (99.4 miles) per hour — one of the quickest on record.

The surprise missile from Wagner, whose normal bowling speed is in the low 130s, lit up social media before the speed radar’s operators said the reading may have been affected by a passing bird.

The left-arm seamer’s ball came on a blustery day at Dunedin’s University Oval when he was bowling to Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal on day two of the first Test.

However, members of the television production team operating the speed radar said a bird had probably caused an inaccurate reading from one of two monitors at the ground.

The alternative reading was 133kph, more in keeping with Wagner’s usual pace.

If Wagner did in fact send down a ball at 160kph, he would have been just a shade off Mitchell Starc’s Test world record of 160.4, set last month in Perth.

The fastest recorded delivery is 161.3 by Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar, nicknamed the “Rawalpindi Express”, against England in a 2003 World Cup limited-overs match.

“If Neil Wagner is hitting 160km, then the drinks cart is doing 150km and West Indian cricket is nosediving at warp,” quipped Twitter user @eld2_0.

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