NEW DELHI: Former Zimbabwe captain and fast bowler Heath Streak passed away at the age of 49 on Wednesday. Streak, who was known for his prowess with the ball, was undergoing treatment for cancer under one of the most respected oncologists in South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s current Test skipper Sean Williams took to the social media platform X (FKA Twitter) to express his condolence over the legendary bowler’s passing.
“Streaky. No words can explain what you and your family have done for mine and many others Our hearts our broken you leave behind a beautiful family and a legacy for us to live up to! You will b missed we love you dearly Rest in peace Streaky,” wrote Williams.
Streak’s bowling partner Henry Olanga took to X (formerly Twitter) to express grief over the passing of the legendary bowling all-rounder.
“Sad news coming through that Heath Streak has crossed to the other side. RIP @ZimCricketv legend. The greatest all-rounder we produced. It was a pleasure playing with you. See you on the other side when my bowling spell comes to an end,” Olonga posted on X.
The 49-year-old announced his retirement at the age of 31, in 2005. Streak remains as the only Zimbabwean to have completed the double of 1,000 career runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket as well as a double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in ODIs.
Streak had captained Zimbabwe in 2000, at a time when a number of players withdrew from the national side as relations between the board and the team hit a rough patch. In his decorated career Streak played 65 matches and picked up 216 wickets with an economy of 2.69.
In the ODI format, the fast bowler featured in 189 matches, scalping 239 wickets at an economy of 4.51. His best bowling figures were 5-32. With the willow, Streak amassed 1,990 runs in the red-ball format, at an average of 22.4. He featured in 65 Tests for his country. In ODIs, Streak aggregated 2,934 runs at a strike rate of 73.4 and an average of 28.3.
In 1993, Streak marked his arrival in the world of cricket with a stellar performance against Pakistan. He established himself as a player to watch out for, picking up 8 wickets in only his second Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Seven years later, Streak was appointed as the Zimbabwe captain but he ended up resigning as the responsibilities and tension with the board over the pay started to affect his form.
Though he was reappointed skipper in 2002, there was increasing pressure on him to take a political stand at the height of a civilian uprising against the then regime under long-time President Robert Mugabe. Streak was criticized for not taking a political stand and decided to step down as captain in 2004.
After hanging up his boots in 2005, Streak returned to cricket as the captain of Warwickshire for the 2006 season after signing a two-year contract. But he ended up stepping down as skipper of the county side after just one game in the 2007 season.
In 2007, he signed up for the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), marking the end of his journey in international cricket. Streak, however, remained connected to cricket, taking up coaching roles with Zimbabwe, Scotland, and Bangladesh, as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders.
In 2021, he was banned for eight years from all cricket after he accepted five charges of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code, including disclosing inside information and facilitating corrupt approaches.
“The offences did not affect the outcomes of any relevant matches and Mr Streak has agreed to assist the ICC anti-corruption education programme for which we are grateful,” the ICC had said then.
Streak maintained that he was not involved in “any match-fixing, spot-fixing, or attempts to influence a game or share information from a changeroom during a match at any given time.”