Sami explodes with balls of fire
Eddie Smith - 6 April 2003
Mohammed Sami of Pakistan clocked 156.4km/h in Thursday's game against Zimbabwe to become the third fastest bowler in recent times.
In the absence of enduring stars like Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, and the hundred-miles-per-hour man Shoaib Akhtar, Sami seems to have grabbed the bull by the horns and decided that he wants the mantle not only as the spearhead of Pakistan's pace battery but also perhaps as the world's fastest bowler.
Sami's 156.4km/h leapfrogs him into third place in the pace race and signals intent to both Lee and Shoaib of his impending presence.
Mohammed Sami's career has previously been one of unfulfilled promise, as he has threatened to ignite for some time but has failed to live up to expectation.
Before his debut, Sami had been described as "Very fast and very hostile." In 2000, about the then 18-years-old, Wasim Akram said that he was at least as fast as Shoaib and that he was happy for him to play Test cricket.
It was almost two years ago to the day that Sami, a skinny 20-year-old fired up the guns with a 147.5km/h thunderbolt against Sri Lanka. Sami had previously clocked 143km/h on his debut against New Zealand but it was this 90mph plus delivery which signalled to many that he had arrived as a genuine speedster and would soon be in the express category.
The past two years have seen Sami's speeds all but stall as he has hovered around the mid-140s (km/h) with a top speed confirmed at 149.7km/h. The 150km/h-plus deliveries have proved elusive as he has sat on the edge of the 'express paceman's' club watching other emerging speed demons pass him by.
Some have proposed that the 22-year-old has been living in the shadow of established stalwarts for too long and that his potential speed would only come to fruition with the confidence which results from being handed the reigns as a leader of the attack. Others have stated that his slight frame would physically not allow him to bowl above the 150km/h mark.
Sami has now blasted the latter train of thought out of the water whilst the former looks to be more on the money.
In his first five-over spell, Sami bowled nine balls exceeding the 150km/h benchmark. Five of them went well beyond it at 152km/h or above, culminating with the 156.4km/h delivery, the first ball of his fifth over. This speed has been verified by the second radar which captured the ball's velocity slightly later in its flight path at 155.7km/h. Thanks once again goes to Warren Brennan and the crew at BBG for their continued support and professionalism with regards the confirmation of bowling speeds.
The magnitude of Mohammed Sami's new found pace can only be comprehended when it is realized that he is the only bowler ever to be recorded initially breaking the 150km/h barrier and then pushing past 155km/h within the same match. That kind of jump is unheralded.
Sami followed up his Herculean performance with 10 balls registering above 149km/h against Sri Lanka. A remarkable effort considering the high temperature in Sharjah and the unusual strain that his body underwent the previous day.
To try and put one's finger on the physical modifications which have given birth to Sami's fresh pace would be to analyse Sami's bodily metamorphosis and his action adjustments. He has no doubt added a bit of meat to his light bones and a few yards of pace to his diminutive run-up. Add to this a demeanour bristling with confidence and the result is an explosive burst which propels the ball at breakneck speeds.
Pakistan's cricket fans the world over are left wondering what might have been, had the kid from Karachi been given the opportunity to partner Shoaib in a twin pace assault at the recently completed World Cup. In an event where only four of the world's pacers bettered 150km/h, it would have been a sight to behold having the fast men charging in and giving the batsmen no respite.
The temptation for the Pakistan selectors now would be to rush back Shoaib and see just what this pairing are capable of. If it is anything even remotely close to what Waqar and Wasim were accomplishing back in their halcyon days, then the world's batsmen may be in for a few sleepless nights as they scramble to send off order forms for the finest in new-fangled body armour