Heath Streak, who is regarded as the finest bowler to have played for Zimbabwe, was born on 16th March 1974. The right arm fast bowler has the ability to swing the ball both ways while maintaining a good line and length.
Also a powerful hitter of the ball, Streak was the leading figure in Zimbabwe’s bowling attack for more than a decade. Having over 100 wickets in both Tests and ODI’s under his bag, Streak was most recently the head coach of Zimbabwe national cricket team.
During college, Streak usually played above his age group and represented the national side in almost every age group starting from junior school.
With the advent of Zimbabwe in Test Cricket, the country had a shortage of quality fast bowlers and Streak’s performances did not go unnoticed. Impressive debut with the Zimbabwe B team in !992-93 season led to his selection in the national squad for the next season.
Heath Streak made his international debut in cricket in an ODI against South Africa in November 1993 at the age of 19. The match was abandoned due to rain and Streak did not get a chance to bowl. His Test debut came in the next month in the series against Pakistan.
After failing to impress in the first text, Streak scalped 8 wickets in the second test which included a five-wicket haul in the second innings. Although Zimbabwe lost the series, Streak managed to cement his spot in the team with impressive performances.
In 1994, Streak debuted for his father’s domestic team Matabeleland and even played along with him in the 1995-1996 season.
Rise to Glory
After impressing against Pakistan, Streak continued his form when Sri Lanka visited Zimbabwe in 1994-95 by taking 13 wickets in the series. When Pakistan toured in 1995, the batsmen had no response to Streak’s outswingers. Streak took 22 wickets in the series which included his career best of 6/90 and was given the Player of the Series award.
This feat made him the first bowler outside the subcontinent to take 40 wickets before reaching the age of 21.
The start of the 1996-97 season saw Streak at the top of the Wisden’s list of world’s leading test cricketers of the previous two years, having taken 53 wickets at an average of less than 20. By this time, Streak had established the rapport of a ‘one-man bowling attack’ and was regarded the best bowler in the side.
While he regularly chipped in small but valuable innings with the bat in ODI’s, Streak also has a century to his name in Test cricket. It came in 2003 against West Indies, where Streak scored an unbeaten 127 to salvage a draw for his team.
Heath Streak was handed the onus of captaincy in 2000 while he was at the top of his game. However due to differences with the Zimbabwe cricket board and pressure of the captaincy, his performance dipped and he resigned soon.
He was appointed as skipper again in 2002 as the country was caught in a political turmoil. He was then accused of not taking a firm political stand while Zimbabwe’s dismal performance in cricket further burdened him. Streak finally gave up captaincy in 2004.
Heath Streak set the record for the highest 7th wicket partnership for Zimbabwe along with Andy Flower after their stand of 130 runs.
Although he did not officially announce his retirement, but he played his last international matches for Zimbabwe in 2005. He joined England’s county club Warwickshire in the next year and joined Indian Cricket League in 2007, which marked the end of his professional career.
He was appointed Zimbabwe’s bowling coach in 2009 and was, until recently, the country’s head coach. Heath Streak is also the bowling coach of IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders.