Heath Streak was a former Zimbabwean cricketer and cricket coach who was considered the best bowler to have played for Zimbabwe. He played for and captained the Zimbabwe national cricket team. Streak was part of the ‘golden era’ of Zimbabwe cricket between 1997 and 2002. He held the record for the highest number of wickets in Test cricket and One Day International (ODI) cricket for Zimbabwe, with 216 wickets in Tests and 239 wickets in ODIs. Streak coached the Zimbabwe men’s team from 2009 to 2013 and from 2016 to 2018. Rumours of Streak’s death were reported by various media houses on 23 August 2023 after Streak’s former teammate Henry Olonga tweeted about his demise. Hours later, the widespread speculation came to an end when Olonga shared a screenshot of his WhatsApp conversation with Streak, who wrote that he was ‘very much alive.’
Heath Hilton Streak was born on Saturday, 16 March 1974 (age 49 years; as of 2023) in Bulawayo, Matabeleland, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After attending Rhodes Estate Preparatory School in Matopos, Bulawayo, he enrolled in Falcon College in the southern Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. At school, he had an ex-Test player, Bob Blair, as his coach; Blair had played for New Zealand. He developed an interest in cricket watching his father play cricket for Zimbabwe when it was still called Rhodesia. Additionally, he grew up watching the Kerry Packer Series, a commercial professional cricket competition staged between 1977 and 1979. Streak’s grandmother who lived in Australia used to send him video recordings of all the games, which fueled his passion for the sport. Talking about the same in an interview, he said,
I watched a lot of the Packer Series as a youngster. My grandmother lived in Australia and she used to send me lots of video recordings of all the games. Channel Nine. I grew up watching the Lillees, the Thomsons, Imran Khan, Hadlee, Marshall. They were my inspirations.”
Later, he received coaching from Rodney Hogg and Bruce Reid.
Height: 6′ 1″
Hair Colour: Light Brown
Eye Colour: Brown
Heath Streak belongs to a family of ranchers hailing from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Denis Streak, was also a first-class cricketer. Apart from playing cricket, he also represented Zimbabwe in lawn bowls. His mother’s name is Karen Streak.
Wife & Children
He was married to Nadine Streak. They have 4 children, two daughters, Holly and Charlotte, and two sons, Kevin and Harry. While Kevin, Holly, and Charlotte are their biological children, Harry is their adoptive son. Kevin and Harry enjoy sports like rugby. Their daughter Holly Streak Cook is married to Sam Cook.
As a Cricketer
On 30 March 1993, Streak made his first-class debut for Zimbabwe B against Kent County Cricket Team at Harare Sports Club. He made his List A debut around the same time. Streak played for the Matabeleland team along with his 46-year-old father, Denis, in the final of the Lonrho Logan Cup against Mashonaland Country Districts in 1995/96. It was the first instance of a father and son playing in the same first-class match for more than thirty years. The two helped their team win the Lonrho Logan Cup after defeating Mashonaland Country Districts. Streak played for Hampshire in 1995 and joined the Warwickshire County Cricket team in 2004. On 8 July 2004, he made his T20 debut for Warwickshire against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Wales. Disappointed with the constant in-fighting inside Zimbabwe cricket, Streak retired from international cricket in October 2005 when he signed a two-year contract as the captain of Warwickshire in 2006.
Although he was offered a new contract by Zimbabwe Cricket, he did not sign it. However, in 2007, Streak stepped down as Warwickshire’s captain after just one Championship match of the season, citing that the captaincy was affecting his personal game. He was replaced by Darren Maddy.
Indian Cricket League (ICL)
In 2007, he played for Ahmedabad Rockets in the controversial Indian Cricket League (ICL). The unsanctioned league lacked the support of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council. Therefore, bans were issued by the BCCI to all the players who participated in the ICL, which caused the league to fold in 2009.
On 10 November 1993, Streak made his ODI debut against South Africa at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. On 1 December 1993, Streak made his Test debut against Pakistan at Defence Cricket Stadium, Karachi. He marked his presence in international cricket by taking 8 wickets in the 2nd Test in Rawalpindi. He went on to win the Player of the Series Award on his debut test series for his impressive performance with the ball. Taking 22 wickets at an average of 13.54, Streak set the record for the most number of wickets taken by a Zimbabwean bowler in a test series.
In 1995, when Pakistan toured Zimbabwe, Streak bettered his best bowling figures taking 6/90 in the first Test at Harare which led to Zimbabwe’s win by an innings. On 13 January 1996, during a Test match against New Zealand in Hamilton, he achieved the distinction of becoming the fastest Zimbabwean bowler to reach 50 Test wickets, accomplishing this feat in just 11 matches. He made his first-ever World Cup appearance in the 1996 Cricket World Cup. He contributed to Zimbabwe’s fifth-place finish in the men’s cricket competition at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He was also a part of Zimbabwe’s squad which won its first test against Pakistan on Pakistan soil in 1998. He was a member of the Zimbabwean team that progressed to the Super Sixes stage for the first time in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. Streak’s career highlights include the World Cup victory against South Africa in 1999.
On 11 June 1999, he became the first as well as the fastest Zimbabwean bowler to take 100 ODI wickets. During the 2000/2001 season, he earned two Man of the Series awards, firstly during Zimbabwe’s tour of England and then during Bangladesh’s tour of Zimbabwe. In 2000, Streak became the first test player from Zimbabwe to seal his spot on the Lord’s honours boards with impressive figures of 6-87.
In 2000, he was appointed as the captain of the Zimbabwe side for both test and ODI formats. During his tenure as captain, Zimbabwe achieved a surprising triumph at home against India in a Test match in 2001, marking Zimbabwe’s first Test victory over India with a four-wicket win.
During the 2001 Australia Tri-series, his bowling spell of 4/8 in an ODI against West Indies led Zimbabwe to defeat West Indies by 47 runs in a low-scoring affair. On 4 February 2001, he became the first Zimbabwean bowler to take 150 ODI wickets in the match against Australia. Streak and Andy Blignaut set the highest seventh-wicket partnership for Zimbabwe in Test cricket by accumulating 154 runs during a Test match against West Indies in July 2001, held in Harare. His partnership with Andy Flower during a match against England on 7 October 2001 led to setting the highest seventh-wicket partnership for Zimbabwe in ODI when the two amassed 130 runs. While he was serving as captain, he became entangled in disputes with the cricket board over matters related to payment and quotas. These conflicts ultimately led to his resignation from the captaincy in 2001. He was again appointed as the captain in 2002 and once more found himself in the spotlight due to Zimbabwe’s political turmoil. He led the Zimbabwean team in the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy and also during the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy. He also captained the Zimbabwean team at the 2003 World Cup, which was spoilt by political turmoil in Zimbabwe. On 23 June 2003, he became the first Zimbabwean bowler to take 200 ODI wickets during a match against England. With 1990 Test runs and 2934 ODI runs, he was considered the most successful Test skipper and the second-most successful captain of Zimbabwe in ODIs. In 2004, while he was still the team’s captain, he was unexpectedly removed from the squad by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union because he was involved in rebellious actions. A 22-year-old named Tatenda Taibu took over as the captain in his place.
After a one-year absence from international cricket, Streak returned to represent Zimbabwe in March 2005. In October 2005, Streak concluded his international cricket career by taking up the position of captain at Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
- He held the record for the highest number of wickets in Test cricket and One Day International (ODI) cricket for Zimbabwe, with 216 wickets in Tests and 239 wickets in ODIs. Streak was the first and only Zimbabwean bowler to have amassed more than 100 Test wickets. He was one of only four Zimbabwean bowlers to have taken over 100 ODI wickets.
- He held the distinction of being the first and only Zimbabwean cricketer to achieve the milestone of 1000 career runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket, as well as the unique achievement of 2000 runs and 200 wickets in ODIs, a record no other Zimbabwean player has matched.
- Having secured seven five-wicket hauls during his Test career, Heath Streak held the record for the highest number of five-wicket hauls by a Zimbabwean bowler in Test cricket.
As a Coach
Streak was appointed as the bowling coach of the Zimbabwe national cricket team in August 2009. Fast bowlers like Kyle Jarvis, Christopher Mpofu, Brian Vitori, and Shingirai Masakadza, who received their coaching and development under his guidance, later went on to become regular features in Zimbabwe’s national side. In May 2014, he was appointed Bangladesh’s bowling coach with a two-year contract until 2016.
In July 2016, he became a consultant of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association Academy. In October 2016, Streak replaced Dav Whatmore as the head coach of the Zimbabwe national cricket team. Under his coaching, Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup following its disappointing performance at the 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifier. Consequently, Streak was forced to resign in early 2018 with the entire coaching staff was also sacked by the board. He worked as a bowling coach for the Gujarat Lions franchise in the 2016 and 2017 IPL seasons. In 2018, he was appointed as a consultant for the Scotland side for two matches in a T20I tri-series featuring Ireland and Netherlands. In 2019, he had a short stint as a consultant bowling coach with Somerset County Cricket Club. In 2021, Kolkata Knight Riders roped in Streak for the role of bowling coach.
In April 2021, Streak was banned from all cricketing activities for eight years after he breached the ICC’s anti-corruption policies.
Heath Streak Academy
In 2014, he founded the Heath Streak Academy (better known as Old Mutual Heath Streak Cricket Academy Trust), which aimed at the development and growth of cricket throughout Zimbabwe. He resigned as the head of the Trust in 2021 following an eight-year ban by the ICC. Later, the academy was renamed the Zimbabwe Youth Cricket Academy.
On 3 September 2023, he died of a colon cancer. He was battling with cancer for a few years.
Accused of Being A Racist
In 2018, the chairman of ZC Tavengwa Mukuhlani accused Streak of being racist while addressing journalists from Daily News and NBC. Consequently, Streak slapped a $1 million defamation lawsuit against Mukuhlani for the alleged defamatory statements. Mukuhlani’s remarks came after Streak was sacked from his position as the head coach following Zimbabwe’s failure to reach the 2019 World Cup.
Banned for Breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code
His association with Zimbabwe Cricket experienced periods of strain on multiple occasions, both throughout his international playing career and during his tenure as a coach. In 2021, Heath Streak was banned from all forms of cricket for breaching the ICC anti-corruption code. Five charges were levelled against him which involved the supply of insider knowledge in exchange for payments, including bitcoins worth US $35,000 and an iPhone. Streak was also accused of introducing players – including a national captain – to people interested in obtaining information for betting purposes. The ICC discovered that Streak had provided information involving both international and domestic matches, which included the 2018 Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe’s series against Afghanistan in 2018, and the 2018 editions of the Indian Premier League and the Afghanistan Premier League. Streak accepted the five charges and the eight-year ban in lieu of a formal anti-corruption tribunal hearing.
- Cricketer(s): Dennis Lillee, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee
- He is nicknamed Streaky and Stack.
- He is a right-hand batter and right-arm fast-medium baller.
- His jersey number for Zimbabwe was #9.
- In 1980, after a war that made Zimbabwe independent, Robert Mugabe became the first black president. At first, things went well, especially in farming. Zimbabwe used to be called “Africa’s breadbasket” because it produced a lot of food. But over time, Mugabe became a harsh ruler. In 2000, the government started taking land from white farmers and giving it to black people in a land reform program. The Streaks, who were white farmers, lost more than 70% of their land in the land reform program. Established in 1996, their farm spread across 40,000 acres of land near Bulawayo with over 600 cattle. Eventually, they were left with 12,000 acres of land. They didn’t like it at first, but later they understood why it had to happen and that they had to give up some of their wealth. Heath Streak took to his family’s farming and safari business, The Robins Farms and Enthokozweni Safaris, after his retirement.
- Streak was not into politics. He never blamed the post-independence regimes of Robert Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa for the country’s struggles. He didn’t join Andy Flower and Henry Olonga when they protested the death of democracy by wearing black armbands at the 2003 World Cup. In fact, he didn’t even know about their plan until the morning of the match, after the game had started.
- In 2005, he organized a fundraising event for AIDS, which featured an auction of cricket memorabilia as part of the initiative.
- On 20 September 2018, Streak submitted an application to the High Court in Harare asking for Zimbabwe Cricket to be liquidated in order for it to pay its debts. He accused the board of “illegally” terminating his contract and the contracts of other members of his coaching staff, claiming the organisation was being run in a “reckless and negligent manner,” and hence, it should be declared insolvent. The application listed the monies owed to Streak and other members, who were all dismissed following their failed World Cup qualifying campaign in March.
- On 13 May 2023, a Zimbabwean senator named David Coltart announced that Streak was ‘extremely ill’. Various media houses reported that Streak had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon and liver cancer, and was ‘on his deathbed.’ On 22 August 2023, Heath Streak was rumoured to be dead after former Zimbabwean cricketer Henry Olonga tweeted,
Sad news coming through that Heath Streak has crossed to the other side. RIP Zimbabwe cricket legend”
Hours after announcing the death, Olonga posted another tweet, confirming that the former Zimbabwe captain was alive and well. She tweeted,
I can confirm that rumours of the demise of Heath Streak have been greatly exaggerated. I just heard from him. The third umpire has called him back. He is very much alive folks. pic.twitter.com/LQs6bcjWSB
— Henry Olonga (@henryolonga) August 23, 2023
- In 2004, Streak revealed that he faced ethical dilemmas while serving as the captain of Zimbabwe, as he was instructed to falsely inform white players that they lacked talent and were to be replaced by black players.
- Heath Streak enjoys consuming alcoholic beverages occasionally.