World's fastest bowler: Morne Morkel at a humongous 173.9 kmph at IPL 2013, but Hawk-Eye was not looking
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World's fastest bowler at IPL 2013? Not really. The third ball of Morne Morkel's first over in Delhi Daredevils' away game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday seemed like an innocuous loosener. Chris Gayle, who was on strike, left it alone and watched it go into the keeper's hands.
And then television cameras zoomed in on Gayle's face, and eyebrows went up around the world. The big West Indian had spotted the figure on the giant screen showing ball speed. 173.9 kmph, a good 12.6 kilometres quicker than the fastest recorded delivery in cricket, Shoaib Akhtar's 161.3 kmph at Newlands during the 2003 World Cup.
Within minutes, Dale Steyn, Morne's bowling partner in the South African national team and himself among the fastest men in world cricket, tweeted: "Did @mornemorkel65 just bowl 173.9kmh??? Haha! He's quick but that's real QUICK!"
As it turns out, Steyn's scepticism was not unjustified. Hawk-Eye, the Hampshire-based company that is providing ball tracking technology for the T20 tournament, had got it wrong.
"The speed of Morne's delivery should have been in the 140s and not in the 170s," Hawk-Eye creative producer James Japhet told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
According to Japhet, the four cameras used to track the ball together capture an average 72 frames of a delivery, the first two of which — the earliest possible before friction reduces velocity — are used to arrive at its speed.
"Over 4,500 balls have been tracked in this edition of the tournament, and over 70,000 till date, and this is perhaps the first time that an error of this magnitude has been aired," Japhet added. "We apologise to Morne if he believed that he owned the record for the fastest ever ball in cricket," he added jokingly.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is learnt to have conducted an informal inquiry into the incident. "We have spoken to Hawk-Eye officials and they informed us that it was a human error and they have assured us that greater care will be taken to eliminate such errors," a top BCCI official said.