Lawrence Moyo

THE global cricket community on Tuesday night was told of a catch that seemingly dismissed former national cricket all-rounder and coach, Heath Streak.

However, the catch was off a huge front foot no ball. 

The problem is it took long for the TV umpire to make the call for a free hit.

Heath Streak is NOT OUT and still having some batting and bowling to do.

News of Streak’s ‘death’ from cancer spread like veld fire on Tuesday evening and the international cricket fraternity took to social media, especially X (formerly Twitter) to express their condolences and pay tribute to the former Zimbabwe cricketer.

Former teammate Henry Olonga became the source for many when he tweeted just after 11pm:

“Sad news coming through that Heath Streak has crossed to the other side. RIP Zim Cricket 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…”

This triggered a wave of condolence messages and tributes from those who were awake, Indian cricketers leading the way. 

Zimbabwe all-rounder, Sean Williams was quoted as having posted on X saying:

“No words can explain what you and your family have done for mine and many others. Our hearts are broken, you leave behind a beautiful family and a legacy for us to live up to! You will be missed, we love you dearly. Rest in peace Streaky.”

Back in Zimbabwe most people were asleep and, crucially, those around Streak seemingly off social media as well and there was no immediate reaction to stop the “funeral”.

India cricket legend, Virender Sehwag said: 

“Extremely sad hearing about the passing away of Heath Streak. He was very competitive and one of Zimbabwe’s best ever all-rounder. Condolences to his family and friends. Sad to know that quite a few who I got to play against are no more. Om Shanti.”

Indian Premier League franchise, Chennai Super Kings, said:

“A Streak of Success that is etched in the history of Zimbabwe Cricket!  Condolences to Heath Streak’s friends and family.”

VVS Laxman, an Indian legend, said: 

“Sad to hear about the passing away of Heath Streak. Heartfelt Condolences to his family, friends and fans of Zimbabwe Cricket.”

Mayukh Bhattacharya said, “Woke up to the news of Heath Streak passing away! Was such a fighter for Zimbabwe cricket. Back in the day when we were growing up, you always knew the fight wasn’t over until he had a bat or ball in hand. Rest in peace!”

Manish Kumar posted:

“Former cricketer of Zimbabwe Heath Streak passed away due to cancer. He was one of the best all-rounder in the world during peak of his career. Rest in peace.”

At dawn, back in Zimbabwe, the Streak family was inundated by calls from people wishing to pass their condolences.

Karen Streak, the mother of the former Zimbabwe international cricket all-rounder, spoke to Zimpapers Sports yesterday morning.

“Heath is not well, but he is fine. He is here at the farm walking about and cracking jokes.

“As a family we are disturbed by the news and the phone has not stopped ringing, considering who Heath is. I am picking up the phones so that I put the record straight,” said Karen.

The family spokesperson, Joseph Rego also spoke to Zimpapers Sports:

“He is fine, it’s not true that he is no more. I would have been among the first ones to know and release the information.

“I was with him yesterday (Tuesday) and he was cheerful, jovial and in his usual humour,” said Rego.

Rego is president and board chairman of the Academy of Cricket Excellence, formerly Heath Streak Cricket Academy Trust. 

Heath himself was quoted in the Mid-Day, an Indian news platform saying he does not have a social media account and there was no way he could have seen the posts and also tell the world that news of his demise is fake.

“It is a total rumour and a lie. I’m alive and well. I am very upset to learn that something as big as someone apparently passing can be spread unverified especially in our day and age of social media, I believe the source should apologise. I am hurt by the news,” he told Mid-Day.

Olonga was back to tell the world that the news he had spread was fake.

 “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.”

Some took him to task for being irresponsible.

“You should take the responsibility for spreading the rumours at first. Clearly it was you who started,” responded The Instigator on X.

Another one responded to Olonga:

“You are part of the problem, how did you rush to post about his death earlier, posting pictures of you and him before you communicated with the family? We all saw you posting and said “it’s true Olonga posted it””

Sports and Recreation Commission chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa later issued a media statement calling on society to be more responsible.

“We live in an age where any news, particularly on social media, prefixed with “Breaking News” is taken as fact. 

“Today, this morning, the world including many of Heath’s close family, relatives and friends, and indeed, Heath himself woke up to the news of his demise.

“If in fact it may not be already clear, Heath Streak is alive. He has not passed away. The undersigned has spoken to him this morning for his permission to issue this brief statement for the sake of his family and friends.

“Today, of all days and in the coming days, let us reflect deeply on what we choose to post, whether it is verified and factual, ethical or moral to do so, who are we hurting and causing trauma to: and ultimately whether our so called “breaking news” is lawful under the laws of our country.

“Whilst the overwhelming majority of posts this morning celebrated the life and achievements of this legendary cricketer, let us nonetheless respect the privacy of Heath’s family at this point in time, as well intentioned as we might all be,” read the statement.

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