AS the name suggests, the Old Mutual Heath Streak Cricket Academy, is the brainchild of former captain Heath Streak set up in 2013, with the objective of developing cricket at grassroots level.
Its lush green and well-manicured lawns on a vast tracts of land speak of the high standards that the academy set for itself as a centre of cricket excellence for youngsters. Situated at McDonald Club, along 4th Avenue Extension, one is greeted by colourful billboards showing off the numerous corporates that are part of the Old Mutual Heath Streak Cricket Academy. At a time when companies seem to be shying away from sports sponsorship, the academy partnered numerous companies from an insurance corporation, a paint manufacturer to supermarkets.
But the future of the cricket centre of excellence hangs by a thread from total collapse after the ban of founder Heath Streak from all cricket related activities for the next eight years. On Wednesday, Streak was slapped with a lengthy ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for breaching its Anti-Corruption Code. He faced charges of match fixing, among others. According to the ICC, under the provisions of the Code, 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.
The ban might have dire consequences on the academy, according to a Bulawayo lawyer. “Corporates don’t want to be associated with an individual or organisation whose reputation is tainted by allegations of financial misconduct or dishonesty which include, but not limited to, bribery, theft and inducements for financial gain.
“In my view, the companies associated with the academy will likely jump ship to steer clear of the scandal that Heath Streak finds himself in. And for the sake of the academy, he might want to do the right thing and resign from any position he holds, so that the institution can move forward,” said lawyer Runyararo Mutunami. Streak had a vision to partner Zimbabwe Cricket in churning out future stars. When he was still the Chevrons coach in 2017 this was his vision.
“Relations with ZC are good as we’re not competing with them at all. We’re there to support and work closely with ZC towards developing cricketers. As it is, ZC approached us for the use of the academy as a developmental academy for Under-17 to Under-20 cricketers. We’re negotiating with them with the possibility of partnering ZC because our belief is that the academy must build future stars to represent our country. We’re there to complement and contribute to national teams,” Streak told the media in March 2017. Relations between the former coach and ZC, however, soured when he lost his job in March 2018 after failing at the last hurdle to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, losing to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“I chose not to resign as I believe it to be degrading to our national players and my technical team,” he said. “As a result, we have been dismissed with immediate effect,” said Streak. The acrimonious relationship didn’t end there.
Streak dragged ZC to court demanding his outstanding salary arrears as well as a lawsuit against ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukhuhlani for insinuating, during a press conference, that the former coach had ‘picked the team along racial lines during an International Cricket Council World Cup Qualifier. He later abandoned the two court applications to pave way for his payment.
Heath Streak Cricket Academy chief executive officer and executive director Joseph Rego was not available for comment.