Heath Streak has expressed shock and disappointment at Zimbabwe Cricket’s [ZC] decision to unceremoniously fire him as Zimbabwe’s coach without affording him an opportunity to present his case in the wake of the national team’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
“We were not given any audience or hearing to explain ourselves or hear ZC’s concerns despite Zimbabwe Cricket chairman [Tavengwa Mukuhlani] publicly stating so,” Streak told Standardsport in an interview on Friday evening, a few hours after being fired by ZC.
“The courtesy of a hearing and explaining their decision and listening to ours would have been appreciated. Clearly, we are an embarrassment to them by the way we have been treated not just me but all my staff, including Graeme Cremer and Tatenda Taibu.”
Streak, who left the country on Friday afternoon for India, where he will take up the role of bowling coach for the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, learned of his fate through a letter from ZC managing director Faisal Haisnan on Thursday evening.
In the brief email sent to Streak, a copy of which has been seen by Standardsport, Haisnan said the former national captain must resign together with his entire staff.
They were told to hand in their resignations by Friday afternoon.
“Further to our discussions, please give your technical staff (and yourself included) until 3pm tomorrow to formally resign. After which time the technical team can consider themselves dismissed and relieved of their duties with immediate effect,” the ZC managing director wrote.
Streak, who was appointed in October 2016, however, refused to resign, daring the board to sack him, becoming the fourth coach to be pushed out by ZC since Englishman Alan Butcher left the head coach post of his own accord in March 2013.
After the deadline passed, it was confirmed that ZC had sacked Streak and his entire backroom staff, who included batting coach Lance Klusener, bowling coach Douglas Hondo, fielding coach Walter Chawaguta, team analyst Stanley Chiwoza and fitness coach Sean Bell.
It is thought that Taibu’s position as chairman of selectors has also been terminated, while Cremer is set to lose the captaincy with Brendan Taylor being persuaded to take over for a second spell.
ZC’s purge extended to other teams within its structures, with Under-19 coach Stephen Mangongo and Zimbabwe A coach Wayne James also removed.
Streak, who still had seven months remaining on his contract, said ZC’s decision to fire him was based only on the defeat to UAE while ignoring the positives he had achieved since taking over.
“Clearly losing to UAE cost us our jobs as our record since we started has almost doubled our win percentage in ODIs and we won the first ODI away series in 17 years,” Streak said.
“I understand that every coach’s tenure will come to an end, but we should at least have been given the chance to give our comments and ask some questions. I was looking to take the team to the World T20 in 2020.”
The decision to fire Streak and his entire technical team has been met with outrage from the majority within the Zimbabwe cricket community, with most fans arguing that it was a ploy by the ZC board to divert attention from its own shortcomings.
Even former players and coaches were also baffled by ZC’s ill-advised move and took to social media to express their views.
Former South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald, who once coached Mountaineers, said on Twitter: “So @ZimCricketv sack the entire coaching staff because they didn’t qualify for next year’s @cricketworldcup 2019 in England. WOW that’s hectic and I really thought that Heath Streak was doing a good job with this group of players.”
Former Zimbabwe international cricketer Gavin Rennie, who played in 23 Tests and 40 ODIs from 1996 to 2003, also expressed his displeasure on Facebook.
“Once again Zim Cricket administrators show their total ineptitude!!! Unbelievable and ridiculous!!! Another tragic day in Zim Cricket history!!! Streaky you did our nation proud!!” Rennic posted.
Meanwhile, Streak paid tribute to fans for their support during the ICC World Cup qualifiers, as well as his players and fellow coaches for their dedication and commitment during his 17-month reign as national team coach.
“Firstly, I want to thank the Zimbabwean fans, friends and family who supported us so passionately during the CWC Qualifiers. I have never seen such support even when I played for Zimbabwe… it was truly inspirational and drove us to dig deep and give our all,” he said in statement.
“Thank you to my staff who worked tirelessly, often going for months unpaid and having had 2 pay cuts during their tenure, but still had that unwavering professional commitment.
“To Graeme and all the players, thank you for your patriotism and commitment to our Chevrons team. I wish you all the very best for the future. I am deeply saddened that my journey with you ends here. Hopefully our paths will meet again in future…”