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Heath Streak’s fall from grace

By Mehluli Sibanda

Two bitcoins valued at US$35 000 as well as an iPhone for his wife from Indian bookmaker Deepak Agarwal are all it took for Heath Streak to soil his legendary cricket status.

Heath Streak in banned over corruption: The leader of that organisation, dubbed Mr X by the International Cricket Council, has been unmasked to be blacklisted Indian bookmaker, Deepak Agarwal, who is serving a two-year ban, from the game.
Heath Streak banned over corruption: The leader of that organisation, dubbed Mr X by the International Cricket Council, has been unmasked to be blacklisted Indian bookmaker, Deepak Agarwal, who is serving a two-year ban, from the game.

Just like the late former South African captain Hansie Cronje, who pocketed R50 000 and a leather jacket for his wife from his bookie friend Marlon Arenstam for fixing the outcome of a Test against England in 2000, Streak also sold his legendary standing for a song.

Streak was last Wednesday banned by the International Cricket Council for eight years after he accepted five charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. The former Zimbabwe captain was caught on the wrong end of the law by the ICC for communicating with Agarwal for 15 months and provided him with various information in relation to tournaments and matches he was involved with.

The ICC said Streak knew the information he provided the bookmaker would be used for betting purposes. Streak even linked Agarwal with players who included a national team captain for the purposes of obtaining information to be used in betting.

Agarwal was last year banned for two years, with six months of that suspended, after he accepted one charge of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. According to the world cricket governing body, Streak began a WhatsApp conversation with an Indian gentleman in September 2017. While the ICC decided to call him Mr X to protect his identity, we can safely state that it is Agarwal because the script of his charges dovetails with that of Streak. When Agarwal was charged, he was also accused of dealing with a Mr X.

It was at Agarwal’s instigation, who said he was interested in organising a league in Zimbabwe and then asked Streak if he would be interested as he could earn some good money from it. ICC goes on to further state that during the course of the discussions, Agarwal made it clear to Streak that he was involved in betting on cricket, and also requested details of his bank account outside Zimbabwe, which Streak provided.

Streak self-confessed to the ICC that he accepted two bitcoins from Agarwal which he subsequently converted into US$35 000 in cash. Streak was also given a brand-new iPhone for his wife by Agarwal. He never declared any of these gifts to the ICC despite knowing very well that he had an obligation to do so.

For someone like Streak who has been involved in the game for so long he knew the consequences of providing inside information for such purposes and even accepting gifts from a bookmaker. It was only a matter of time before the ICC Anti-Corruption caught on with his activities.

Streak has now joined a list of former cricketers who have been caught on the wrong end of the law by the ICC. He is now just like the late Cronje and it is not something that the former Zimbabwe captain, a great servant of the game would want to be remembered for.

For any youngster aspiring to be a cricketer in the late 1990s to early 2000s, the likes of Streak were an inspiration.

Streak, described as a lion hearted fast bowler is the country’s leading wicket-taker in Tests and One Day Internationals, so he ranks amongst the best ever players to represent Zimbabwe. He is up there with big names such as Duncan Fletcher, Andy Flower, Neil Johnson, David Houghton, and Grant Flower.

Streak is not only a legend in Zimbabwe, he is well respected at English county side Warwickshire where he was captain in 2006. That he committed some of his acts while he was entrusted with the job of coaching the Zimbabwe national team feels like a great betrayal to those that handed him such a task.

Streak went on warpath against Zimbabwe Cricket when he was fired in April 2018 after failing to qualify for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England. Zimbabwe failed to make it to the Cricket World Cup after a humiliating three-run defeat to the United Arab Emirates through the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Tavengwa Mukuhlani, the ZC chairman believed at the time and is still convinced that there was something amiss about the loss to UAE. Now that Streak has been charged with corruption, Mukuhlani feels even more justified to make those claims. ZC did report their suspicions to the ICC about the match against UAE but nothing has come out until now.

Streak last Friday stepped down from his responsibilities at the Old Mutual Streak Academy in Bulawayo, which has also been renamed the Zimbabwe Youth Cricket Academy. With him being banned, his position at the academy, which opened its doors to the public in 2014 became untenable, so not only did he resign but asked the board of trustees, which includes his father Denis, to completely remove his name from the institution.

Many have been left wondering what could have driven Streak, who had a good salary of over US$20 000 a month when he was coaching the Zimbabwe national team to get involved with people like Agarwal. Was he broke or it was just greed? The whole world is waiting for him to one day open up on how he got himself into trouble which has tainted his image forever. The Sunday News

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