By Grace Chingoma
The Heath Streak Academy has been renamed Zimbabwe Youth Cricket Academy. This follows the resignation of the founder, Streak, the former national team skipper and coach, from the Trust’s operations.
The academy will remain operational, carrying its mandate of cricket development countrywide, as provided for in their mission statement.
Streak fell from grace this week after he was slapped with an eight-year ban from all forms of cricket by the International Cricket Council.
He pleaded guilty to five charges of having established a union with a disgraced Indian bookmaker to supply him with sensitive information about the game.
The ICC do not allow cricketers, coaches, administrators and umpires to supply third parties, like bookmakers, with information about the game.
These bookmakers have been found, in the past, to abuse such information, in their shadowy web of match-fixing, which has blighted the gentlemen’s game.
Streak went into bed with Indian bookmaker, Deepak Agarwal, who is serving a two-year ban from the game and linked him with some of the game’s top players.
Former Bangladesh captain, Shakib Al Hasan, fell prey to Agarwal’s charm and was banned for two years. He has, however, completed his ban, and returned to play international cricket, for his country, and in the Indian Premier League.
Former United Arab Emirates captain, Mohammad Naveed, also fell into the same trap, and was banned for eight years.
His ex-international teammate, Shaiman Anwar Butt was also roped into this dark web and was handed an eight-year ban.
However, it has emerged that come of the international cricketers, who were approached, presumably using contracts supplied by Streak, rejected Agarwal’s advances.
They include Bangladesh’s explosive opener, Tamim Iqbal, and Zimbabwe’s all-rounder, Sikanda Raza.
According to reports in the Indian media, the duo rejected the approaches from the bookmaker and, as is demanded by the ICC, promptly reported the cases to the authorities.
Streak admitted he received two bitcoins, which were exchanged for US$35 000, from Agarwal, and a new iPhone which was given as a present, to his wife.
His fall from grace had led to speculation that the academy, which he founded, with the aim of identifying, and nurturing, the next generation of the country’s stars, would collapse.
However, after an extraordinary meeting of the board of trustees of the academy, which was convened in the wake of the recent ban handed on the cricket legend, the officials said the school of excellence will not be shut down.
Abandoning the academy, which has already made its mark, could have been an extreme measure, given the kids, who are benefiting from its work, had nothing to do with the actions of their founding president.
Streak himself is not being outlawed from cricket completely, with the ICC saying he will be used to preach the message to others about the pitfalls of associating with these shadowy bookmakers.
It’s part of the plea bargain, which the two parties entered into, and ensured that Streak would not receive a life ban from the game.
According to a brief statement, issued out after the meeting, the academy’s board unanimously resolved to appoint Joseph Rego, as the new academy president, and chairman of the trust.
Businessman Elifasi Mashaba was appointed vice-chairman.
Rego is an Indian citizen, who has been resident in Zimbabwe for the past nine years.
He has served as the trust’s chief executive, for many years, and was credited for bringing a wealth of experience, in grooming and marketing the sport, both locally and globally.
Mashaba is a prominent Bulawayo businessman, the founding chairman of the board, and a trustee.
“Streak has also requested for the name change of the trust and the academy.
“In the meeting, held at the academy on Friday, the 16th of April 2021, the trustees accepted, and formally ratified, the resignation of Streak from all academy-related operations and the trust.
‘’The board also accepted the request made by Streak that the name of the trust and the academy be changed.
“The Streak family has been heavily involved in the sport, from their founding days in Inyathi, at least five generations ago.
“Not only is the family’s contribution to the sporting landscape monumental, their legacy is firmly rooted in the fabric of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe.
“In the time that Heath Streak has served on the trust, he has made great personal strides in the development of the sport.
“The board and trust appreciate the honesty and transparency displayed by Mr Streak, in the wake of the ICC decision.
“Because of that, the board firmly stands with him, and his family, in these trying times and in future, as he seeks to redeem his good name and reputation,” read the statement.
Other trustee members who attended the meeting are Denis Streak, the cricketer’s father, Viresh Naik, David Coltart, and member of Parliament, Raj Modi. The Herald