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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English - Visually Impaired
  • Featurette
Kings of Speed
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 78 mins . G . PAL


There are few things that excite a cricket crowd more than a quick bowler being thrown the ball. He marks out his run, turns and starts to run in and unleashes a cannonball that would send a shiver of fear down the spine of any man standing at the other end of the pitch with some padding, a helmet and a bit of wood protecting three more bits of wood. But just who is, or was, the fastest bowler of all time? This DVD, The Kings of Speed, attempts to find out.

At anytime in the history of cricket, there are champions with the bat and champions with the ball, but this DVD looks exclusively at the speed bowlers and goes to great lengths to answer that question. There are interviews with modern day bowlers such as Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Shoaib Akhtar and some past greats such as the ockerish Jeff Thomson. There are also interviews with members of the current Channel Nine commentary team members such as Ian Chappell and Tony Greig, mostly former greats themselves. There are interviews with those brave (and some would say crazy) guys at the other end facing the lethal deliveries. There are some unusual choices of interviewees, with both former and present players such as Graeme Wood, Bruce Laird, Wayne Phillips, Justin Langer and Michael Slater all throwing in their two cents worth.

For a more technical point of view, there is input from several human movement specialists from the University of Western Australia. They attempt to explain why some bowlers are fast, and others are super quick. The DVD also examines the changes to the game, and changes to the cricketers' protective gear and the reasons why helmets and pads are essential.

Historically, there is footage of, and speculation about, the speed of such bowlers as Imran Khan, Frank Tyson, Harold Larwood, the Australian legends Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, and the formidable West Indian speed kings, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. It also spends some time looking at the series of speed bowling tests that were conducted at Gloucester Park, next to the W.A.C.A., in 1975, and more thoroughly in 1979 when five of the world's fastest were invited back for a 'bowl-off". You'll need to watch this DVD to see who was the quickest.

Cricket lovers will enjoy this DVD for it is informative, interesting and well presented. It will provide some great memories and some insight into the minds of these guys who quite rightly have been dubbed The Kings of Speed.


The aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is 16:9 enhanced and will disappoint no one. As you would expect there is variable quality footage here that goes back to the "Bodyline" days and moves up to very recent footage and, naturally, the more recent it is, the better it looks. The older stuff is black and white and while the stuff from the '70s is colour, it is quite soft and fuzzy. However the recent interview footage is beautiful, clear and natural as you would expect of digital video technology. Colours in the new footage are bold, and everything is mark and grain free. Only the older stuff is grainy and artefact ridden but hey, some of it is more than 70 years old. There is little else to add. There is no layer change to disrupt the feature and, in general terms, this looks fantastic.

The only language option is English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and it is also rather good. Interviews are loud and clear, the narration is also loud and clear, there are no synchronisation problems, and while there are no really low frequency sounds as such, some of the music shows that there is a good fidelity when required.

Being mostly interviews and cricket footage taken from television broadcasts, there is nothing here that will cause any problems apart from Akhtar's interview snippets where his accent can be a little tough to understand, but hey, do what I did, turn on the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles.

You wouldn't really expect any extras on a disc such as this, but there is one and it's an historically interesting one. The World's Fastest Bowlers at 13 minutes will be a great trip down memory lane for anyone who followed cricket in the '70's. A younger Richie Benaud (he doesn't look any younger mind you - and that suit!) takes us back in this historical piece and walks us through a rogue's gallery of the fastest bowlers of the '70s. We then get to see some of the Fastest Bowler Competition mentioned earlier that was conducted at Gloucester Park in 1979. Great stuff. It is hosted by Bruce Walker (who was runner-up in 1979's "World's Biggest Collar Competition"). Sadly, Bruce passed away some years ago, but what ever happened to that winning collar?

With the cricket season at the business end, this DVD will be enjoyed by anyone with a passion for cricket. It may be a 'gentleman's game', but watching and listening to these guys you'd have to wonder.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Lillee, Thomson, Roberts, Holding, Croft, Tyson, Larwood, Lee, Akhtar - just who is/was the fastest bowler of all time?"
    - Terry Kemp
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