Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak has passed away aged 49.
The all-rounder lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, according to several former teammates and media outlets.
Henry Olonga, a retired pace bowler, described Streak, who was born in Bulawayo, as “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 tweeted.
With a crying emoji, current Zimbabwe captain Sean Williams tweeted: “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.”
A key member of what is considered the “golden era” of Zimbabwean cricket from 1997 to 2002, Streak played 65 Tests and 189 ODIs for Zimbabwe. He is the all time leading wicket taker for Zimbabwe in Test cricket with 216 wickets and in ODI cricket with 239 wickets.
Heath Streak is the first and only Zimbabwean bowler to have taken over 100 Test wickets and one of only four Zimbabwean bowlers to have taken over 100 ODI wickets. He is the first and only Zimbabwean to have completed the double of 1,000 career runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket as well as the first and only Zimbabwean to have completed the double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in ODIs.
With seven five-wicket hauls in his test career, he holds the record for taking the most number of five-wicket hauls by a Zimbabwean bowler in test cricket.
Streak was hospitalised in South Africa in May after going down with what friends said was colon and liver cancer.
Former sports minister David Coltart, writing on Twitter at the time, said Streak was “on his last legs” with his family rushing from London to be by his side.
“Seems only a miracle will save him,” Coltart said.
Heath Streak was one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated sporting figures throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He represented Zimbabwe in 65 Tests and 189 ODIs, scoring 4933 runs and taking 455 wickets for his country.
After retiring in 2005, he served in coaching roles for several teams at domestic and international levels, including Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In 2021, Streak was dealt an eight-year ban after being charged with five breaches of the ICC’s anti-corruption code. Earlier this year, he revealed he was undergoing treatment for cancer.
“Heath has cancer and is undergoing treatment under one of the most respected oncologists in South Africa,” his family said in a statement at the time.
“He remains in good spirits and will continue to fight this disease in a similar vein to that which his opponents faced during his revered days on the cricket field.”