Thursday, 15 April 2021

CRICKET LEGEND, HEATH STREAK, BANNED

ZIMBABWE Cricket have called it the darkest day in the history of the domestic game after one of their legends, Heath Streak, was banned for eight years, by the International Cricket Council.

He was found guilty, after accepting five charges, of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code. The 47-year-old’s transgressions are centred on disclosing inside information, and facilitating corrupt approaches, for betting purposes.  

The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit said this happened over a period of 15 months, between 2016 and 2018, during his time as coach of the Chevrons and some cricket clubs in India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The ban is with immediate effect and will end on March 28, 2029.  ‘’Zimbabwe Cricket welcomes and endorses the ICC’s decision to ban former Zimbabwe captain and coach, Heath Streak, from all cricket activities for eight years,’’ ZC president, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, said.

‘’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.

‘’While we have been left to pick up the pieces from the damage, it is our hope that the punishment meted out on Streak will help to reinforce the measures that the ICC and ZC, have been taking to root out any wrongdoing in cricket.’’

The ICC charge sheet revealed Streak passed on information on matches and contact details of players, including one national team captain, to an unnamed Indian bookmaker, involved in cricket betting.  

The identity of the national team captain, or the country he plays or played for, was not  immediately clear, last night.

Streak is the third ex-Zimbabwean cricket official, to be banned by the ICC, for corrupt activities, in recent years.  In 2018, Rajan Nayer, then treasurer and marketing director of the Harare Metropolitan Cricket Association, was banned from all cricket activities for 20 years for attempting to fix the Test match between Zimbabwe and the West Indies.

Nayer had unsuccessfully tried to approach former national team captain, Graeme Cremer, and influence him to be part of his machinations.

The following year, former chairman of the Harare Metropolitan Cricket Association, Enock Ikope, was also banned from all cricket, for 10 years. The ICC Anti-Corruption Tribunal found him guilty of breaching three counts of the organisation’s code, in the same match-fixing case.

Streak was found guilty of accepting cash and gifts, in exchange for his information, when he was fully aware this was not allowed by the ICC. He also tried to conceal the evidence. 

Streak admitted to accepting two bitcoins, from the bookmaker, which was subsequently converted into US$35 000 cash.  He was also gifted with a new iPhone.

However, Streak did not disclose the approaches, which is an offence, and the gifts to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit or the Designated Anti-Corruption officials.

He also tried to delay investigations, and also defeat the course of justice, by deleting WhatsApp messages, and exchanging notes with his co-accused Indian partner, during the investigations by the Anti-Corruption Unit.

ICC General Manager – Integrity Unit – Alex Marshall, said Streak should have led by example, as someone who had been in the game for several years.

“Heath Streak is an experienced former international cricketer and national team coach, who had participated in numerous anti-corruption education sessions and was fully aware of his responsibilities under the Code,’’ said Marshall.

“As a former captain and coach, he held a position of trust and owed a duty to uphold the integrity of the game.  He has also expressed his remorse and contrition and entered this agreed sanction decision to avoid the need for a full disciplinary process.’’

He committed the offences while he was bowling coach for Zimbabwe, the Kolkata Knight Riders team in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League and the Kabul Zwanan team, during the 2018 Afghanistan Premier League. 

“The charges are as follows: “2.3.2 — disclosing inside information under both the ICC Code and various domestic Codes, in circumstances where he knew or should have known that such information may be used for betting purposes, in particular, he disclosed inside information in relation to matches in the 2018 Tri-Series “involving Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the Zimbabwe v Afghanistan series in 2018, the IPL 2018 and the APL 2018.

“2.3.3 — directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach the Code. In particular, he facilitated or attempted to facilitate the introduction of four different players, including a national captain, to someone he knew, or should have known, may have wanted to approach them to provide inside information for betting purposes.  

“2.4.2 — Failing to disclose the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that the participant knew or should have known was given to them to procure a breach of the Code or that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

“2.4.4 — Failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code including in relation to international matches, matches in the 2017 BPL, the 2018 Pakistan Super League, the 2018 IPL and the 2018 APL.

“Article 2.4.7 — obstructing or delaying an investigation, including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information that may be relevant to that investigation and / or that may be evidence of or may lead to the discovery of evidence of corrupt conduct under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.“Under the provisions of the code, Mr Streak chose to admit the charges and agreed the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing. He will be free to resume his involvement in the game on 28 March 2029.”

But, by way of a letter agreement dated 28 March 2021, Streak formally admitted that he had breached the Code provisions and waived his right to a hearing before the Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

While Streak has been handed an eight-year ban, former South African captain, the late Hansie Cronje, was hit with a life ban, in a match-fixing saga, which exploded at the turn of the millennium. Herald 

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