Heath Streak accepts ICC ban but says he didn’t fix matches
Former Zimbabwe captain and coach may face a separate investigation by his country’s prosecuting authority
Heath Streak, the former Zimbabwe captain and coach who received an eight-year ban from the ICC for breaching the anti-corruption code, has “apologised” and taken “full responsibility” for his actions but asserts he was not involved in any attempts to fix matches. Streak admitted to disclosing inside information pertaining to international matches involving a 2018 Zimbabwe-Bangladesh-Sri Lanka tri-series, a Zimbabwe-Afghanistan series in 2018, the 2018 IPL and the 2018 Afghanistan Premier League but claims he did not influence any matches directly.
In a statement released by Streak on Thursday morning, he detailed his engagement with “an individual keen to invest in cricket in Africa,” admitted he “should have been more cautious,” with his actions and hoped his sanction would serve as a “cautionary tale,” for others.
“I also want to place on record to the public and fans that I was not involved in any match fixing, spot fixing or attempts to influence a game or share information from a changeroom during a match at any given time in our relationship. This position has been confirmed by the ICC itself in its own statement,” Streak’s statement read.
He confirmed aspects of the ICC’s verdict about establishing a T20 league in Zimbabwe but did not admit to knowing the person he was dealing with, understood to be Deepak Agarwal, was involved in betting.
“In 2017, I met an individual keen to invest in cricket in Africa and in particular they wanted to sponsor a T20 Tournament in Zimbabwe, which would be called the Safari Blast. The individual was subsequently vetted and cleared through the usual protocols and to be honest I let my guard down as the friendship and potential business partnership blossomed. The nature of our relationship was fraternal and cordial at all times. I genuinely believed it was a safe space. I also hoped the relationship would be beneficial not only to myself and to the Academy but to Zimbabwean cricket and I pursued its growth with vigour.
“At the onset I was engaged, and paid the Bitcoin, to assist in buying and building teams in different regional T20 competitions, which was successful, resulting in the purchase of a team in Dubai for this individual. Much later on in our friendship the only other thing I received was a bottle of whisky and my wife was gifted a phone. Several months down the line the ICC then brought to my attention the fact that the individual with whom I had been dealing, and some of the information that I had shared during our friendship/interaction may have been used for online betting.”
Although he is understood to have initially contested the ICC’s charges, in his statement Streak said he “submitted myself to the process and co-operated at every turn,” and that he flouted the ICC’s ethics code “unwittingly.” He asked that any “pain or angst,” be directed to him solely and not his family, friends or Zimbabwe Cricket.
“I also hope that cricket in Zimbabwe should not be punished or suffer for my actions directly or indirectly. I commit to serving out my sanction as guided by the ICC and am committed to help them and cricket in Zimbabwe in whatever manner I can. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the development of cricket in Zimbabwe, making amends and returning to the game as and when the ICC sees it fit,” he wrote.
While Streak’s matter with the ICC is closed, he will continue to work on the anti-corruption education program “so that the next generation of players and administrators can see the potential dangers and pitfalls as well as understand the serious ramifications of their actions.”
That does not necessarily mean he is in the clear completely. Zimbabwe’s sports and recreation commission has requested the country’s national prosecuting authority to “ascertain whether any of the criminal laws in Zimbabwe, particularly those relating to corruption, have been breached by Heath Streak in order that appropriate action is also taken locally,” and he could yet face charges in his own country.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent