By Robson Sharuko
Heath Streak claims poor judgment sucked him into the mess which triggered his spectacular fall from grace, leading to an eight-year ban, from cricket.
The former Zimbabwe captain and coach, insisted he never fixed a match, or participated in any sport-fixing, during his entire career in the sport.
He also claimed he never benefited from his relationship, with shamed Indian bookmaker, Deepak Agarwal, the man who brought him down.
The only two gifts he received from Agarwal, claimed Streak, were a bottle of whisky and an iPhone, for his wife.
Streak has now pleaded for forgiveness, for letting down his country, which invested its trust, and full support in him, throughout his career.
He was sanctioned by the International Cricket Council, for flouting the Code, which safeguards the game from corruption.
Streak claims he was a victim of his poor judgment, which should have reminded him of the pitfalls, of his association with Agarwal.
He was found guilty of passing on sensitive information, the shadowy Indian bookmaker, who was also banned for two years.
The Indian might have used the information for corrupt activities, according to the ICC, in the underworld of online betting.
“It is with a heavy heart and anguish that I come before all of you, mindful and aware that I have let a lot of people down through my, actions and omissions,’’ Streak said in a statement, released yesterday.
“Whatever my intentions were, I understand that when one agrees to be bound by a set of rules, there can be no excuse for not following them and, as I engaged in the ICC, over the past two years during this difficult process, I realised the marked difference between fault and responsibility.
‘’I apologise sincerely to my family, friends, the cricket loving public and, most of all, all my fellow Zimbabweans who have, over the years, shown me love and support, during the numerous trials and tribulations we have faced.
“In 2017, I met an individual keen to invest in cricket in Africa and, in particular, they wanted to sponsor a T20 Tournament in Zimbabwe, which would be called the Safari Blast.
“The individual was subsequently vetted and cleared through the usual protocols and to be honest I let my guard down as the friendship and potential business partnership blossomed.
‘’The nature of our relationship was fraternal and cordial at all times. I genuinely believed it was a safe space. I also hoped the relationship would be beneficial not only to myself, and to the Academy, but to Zimbabwean cricket and I pursued its growth with vigour.
“At the onset I was engaged, and paid the Bitcoin (worth US$35 000), to assist in buying and building teams in different regional T20 competitions, which was successful, resulting in the purchase of a team in Dubai for this individual.
“Much later on in our friendship the only other thing I received was a bottle of whisky and my wife was gifted a phone.’’
Streak illustrated how his world starting falling apart, when the ICC approached him, highlighting his dealings with Agarwal were in contravention of the game’s anti-corruption Code.
“Several months down the line the ICC then brought to my attention the fact that the individual, with whom I had been dealing, and some of the information that I had shared during our friendship/interaction, may have been used for online betting,’’ his statement read.
“The ICC carried out a detailed and thorough investigation of our relationship, over a two-year period. I submitted myself to the process and co-operated at every turn.
“At the end of the enquiry, it became evident that through my excitement and desire to bring the T20 Tournament to Zimbabwe and build a relationship with the individual, I had unwittingly flouted some of the elements of the ICC ethics Code.
“In hindsight, I should have been more cautious especially given my position and all the information and opinions to which I am privy, however insignificant they appeared to me, at the time.
“As a team owner I also introduced people to the individual in the belief that I was adding value to their careers and creating opportunities.
“I understand fully that it may not have been my fault but was, and it is, my responsibility to uphold the ICC Code.’’
However, the ICC, in their judgment, said Streak attempted to erase some of the material, related to his communication with Agarwal, and also delay the process.
The former Chevrons skipper took full responsibility for his downfall.
“I, therefore, take full responsibility for my actions. I hope that my sanction may serve as a cautionary tale for all people involved in this amazing game we love, at every level, and will help them understand that they are duty bound to a higher standard of confidentiality and restraint,’’ read his statement.
“I understand fully that it may not have been my fault but was, and it is, my responsibility to uphold the ICC code. I, therefore, take full responsibility for my actions.
“I also want to place on record to the public and fans that I was not involved in any match fixing, spot fixing or attempts to influence a game or share information from a change room during a match at any given time in our relationship.
“This position has been confirmed by the ICC itself in its own statement.
“I accepted the sanction by the ICC after extensive soul searching and having a better understanding of accountability.
“I hope my admissions and acknowledgement of my wrongdoing, wittingly or unwittingly, will set an example to current and future stakeholders in our beloved sport of cricket.
“And, I will continue to help the ICC as and when I am needed so that the next generation of players and administrators can see the potential dangers and pitfalls as well as understand the serious ramifications of their actions.
“I have agreed to help the ICC in their investigations, and anti-corruption education programme, as well.’’
He prayed for forgiveness and said his actions should not be used to abuse his family or friends but rather all the anger should be directed at him.
“I take this opportunity to once again sincerely apologise to my supportive family, friends and all cricket fans who have been affected by my poor judgment, and lack of discretion,’’ read his statement.
“I respectfully request that any pain, or angst felt, be directed at me and that my family, and friends, are not vilified for my actions.
“I also hope that cricket in Zimbabwe should not be punished, or suffer for my actions directly, or indirectly. I commit to serving out my sanction, as guided by the ICC and I am committed to help them, and cricket in Zimbabwe, in whatever manner I can.
“I look forward to continuing to contribute to the development of cricket in Zimbabwe, making amends, and returning to the game, as and when the ICC sees fit.’’ The Herald