By Eddie Chikamhi
Cricket followers across the world have spoken of their shock and disappointment following the corruption case that led to the conviction of former Zimbabwe captain and coach, Heath Streak.
The 47-year-old was a symbol of inspiration, who many looked up to, rising to lead his country as a skipper and, later, as a coach.
But, his admission to five charges of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code, have seen him falling from grace, in spectacular fashion.
Former Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart, an ardent follower of cricket in Zimbabwe, and a close friend of the cricketer, reacted with disbelief, to the developments.
“I am deeply saddened by this report as Heath Streak has been a good friend for many years,’’ said Coltart.
“I am grateful that he has admitted his breach. Repentance is the first step towards rehabilitation.
“There can be no excuses for this type of behaviour. Corruption has deeply affected cricket internationally, and within Zimbabwe, and must be ruthlessly rooted out, wherever it is found.
“That said, I stand ready to assist Heath redeem his otherwise outstanding record and contribution.’’
Streak is generally regarded as the finest bowler to emerge in Zimbabwe.
In 2000, Streak became the first Zimbabwean Test player, to seal his spot on the Lord’s honours board, with impressive figures of 6-87.
In the Chevrons’ 10th Test, and their first at the home of cricket, Streak came of age.
The hosts took the new ball, and powered through the inexperienced Zimbabwe batting line-up, with the Chevrons being bundled out for just 83.
The top scorer had only 24 runs.
Streak then led the Zimbabwe fightback, dismissing the England’s top four batsmen with a combination of both determination and skill, to open a window of hope for his team.
He then completed a fine show with the two last wickets as England were restricted to 415.
His figures of 6-87 provided something for the Zimbabweans to cherish as they were hammered by an innings and 209 runs.
However, Streak has now let down many of the people, who got inspired by his perseverance and excellence, on the pitch.
His conviction has left his legacy in tatters.
“How the mighty have fallen. The previously much-vaunted Heath Streak, once a near Zimbabwean cricket icon, is banned for eight years,” posted Chris Dixon on Twitter.
And, Ishmael Mazorodze agreed.
“Corruption of any form is abhorrent. Clearly, Heath Streak has disappointed many cricket fans, across the globe, with his malpractices.
“In mitigation, he has admitted his corrupt practices and is cooperating with ICC to fight this systemic vice in cricket but the honour is all gone.’’
Some believed he was a victim of the deep-rooted corruption, which has infiltrated the game, at all levels.
“Sport is laden with gambling /match-fixing related corruption. But I least expected Heath Streak to do this,’’ said Siphosami Malunga.
“I don’t know him personally so I had no basis to believe he’d not do such. He was my hero. What a disappointment.”
David Piesing said it was a disappointing development.
“Very sad indeed. Certainly would not have expected him to be involved but that just shows how deep the infiltration can reach,” he said.
The ICC charge sheet revealed Streak passed on information on matches, and contact details of players, for betting purposes, to an Indian bookmaker.
He has been identified as Deepak Agarwal.
The Indian businessman is banned by ICC, until 2022, for previous corrupt approaches, involving Afghanistan skipper Shakib Al Hasan.
Streak has also admitted accepting two Bitcoins, from the bookmaker, which were subsequently converted into US$35 000, in cash.
He was also gifted with a new iPhone.
However, he did not disclose the approaches, and the gifts, to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit or the designated Anti-Corruption officials.
“Aah, guys, Heath Streak downfall hurts. He was a national hero, an icon, an ambassador in cricket. I felt this,” posted Humba Wasu.
Another fan, Praise Dumi Dhakama, said it was a dark day for the game in this country.
“But, Heath Streak though, just like that, legendary status gone. . . thoroughly disappointed.
“Sad day for Zimbabwe Cricket.’’
Streak is the leading wicket-taker, in Test cricket, for this country and, at the peak of his powers, he was ranked the fifth best bowler in the world. The Herald