Harare – About 26 years ago, Heath Streak lined up for Zimbabwe’s first ever Test win since getting Test cricket status.
That was a 64-run victory over Pakistan in 1995, and it came three years after the country became a Test playing nation. Streak’s contribution to that cause was a haul of nine wickets for the concession of 105 runs in two innings.
As Zimbabwe faces Pakistan at the very same Harare Sports Club venue where that famous victory was registered, the cricket world is not looking back with nostalgia at Streak’s exploits back in 1995.
Instead, the big story is how Streak – long considered a fine cricketer, a fierce competitor and a gentlemen’s gentleman – has been banned from the game for eight years for breaching the ICC anti-corruption code.
In early April, the man who was once rated among the top ten bowlers in the world, and who picked up more than 200 Test wickets in his career, pleaded guilty to five counts of charges related to match-fixing.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani captured the stunning fall of the legend aptly.
“For a sporting discipline that prides itself as the gentlemen’s game, this is a very sad and shameful episode that might well go down in history as the darkest day in Zimbabwean cricket.
“As he represented and captained Zimbabwe before later coaching the national side over the years, Streak was a powerful figure adored by many and held up as an idol for future generations of cricketers. In doing this, he held a position of trust and owed a duty to uphold the integrity of the game.
“But, as we and the rest of the world now know, Streak was also a corrupt, greedy and selfish character who regrettably abused his status and position in pursuit of dirty benefits.
“He has let cricket down. He has let down the teams and players he coached. He has let the nation down. He has let down the fans – including impressionable children – who loved and idolised him,” lamented Mukuhlani.
Streak has had to step down from heading his own Heath Streak Academy as he is not allowed to participate in any cricket-related activity for the better part of the next decade. He has also said the institution’s name is being changed to the Zimbabwe Youth Cricket Academy.