HEATH Streak has broken his silence after his teammate erroneously announced he had died after a battle with cancer.
The cricket legend, 49, said he was “very upset and hurt” by the rumours of his sudden passing that swept the internet.
Heath Streak reassured fans he was alive after a teammate mistakenly announced his deathCredit: AP
Henry Olonga erronously shared a post paying tribute to the starCredit: Handout
He reassured fans that he was “alive and well” just hours after the sporting world was shaken by the news of his death.
The former Zimbabwe captain has reportedly been receiving treatment for stage-four colon and liver cancer in South Africa.
But he was forced to step out of the shadows to address speculation that he had died after his teammate Henry Olonga mistakenly shared his condolences.
The 47-year-old shared a poignant social media post paying tribute to Streak on Wednesday, dubbing him the nation’s “greatest allrounder”.
He wrote: “Sad news coming through that Heath Streak has crossed to the other side. RIP [Zimbabwe cricket] legend.
“The greatest allrounder we produced. It was a pleasure playing with you.
“See you on the other side when my bowling spell comes to an end.”
Tributes to Heath and heartbreak from fans began to flood X, formerly known as Twitter, following the major gaffe.
Zimbabwe captain Sean Williams and cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan were among those duped by the announcement.
Just hours after his initial post, Olonga shared another explaining that he had been misinformed about the cricket star’s condition.
He said: “I can confirm that rumours of the demise of Heath Streak have been greatly exaggerated.
“I just heard from him. The third umpire has called him back. He is very much alive folks.”
He also shared a screenshot of a message sent to him by Streak, who wrote: “Very much alive..pse revert this runout IMMEDIATELY buddy.”
Olonga responded: “Haha. So good to hear. This thing grew legs quickly. You died overnight brother.”
Streak, the first Zimbabwean player to take 100 wickets, has since spoken out to rubbish the news of his death.
According to news outlet Mid-Day, he branded the claims “a total rumour and a lie” in a statement.
The dad-of-two said: “I’m alive and well.
“I am very upset to learn that something as big as someone apparently passing can be spread unverified, especially in our day and age of social media”.
Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation Commission’s chairman, Gerald N Mlotshwa echoed his comments in a Facebook post.
He added: “We live in an age where any news, particularly on social media, prefixed with ‘breaking news’ is taken as fact.
“Today, of all days, and in the coming days, let us reflect deeply on what we choose to post, whether it is verified or factual, ethical or moral to do so, who we are hurting and causing trauma to; and ultimately whether our so called ‘breaking news’ is lawful under the laws of our country.
“Whilst the overwhelming majority of posts this morning celebrated the life and achievements of this legendary cricketer, let us nonetheless respect the privacy of Heath’s family at this point in time, as well-intentioned as we might all be.”
Streak has stepped back from the spotlight in recent years after his retirement in 2005 following an illustrious cricketing career.
The ex-fast bowler is regarded as one of his country’s best sportsmen.
He captained his team between 2000 and 2004, playing 65 Tests and 189 one-day internationals for Zimbabwe.
Streak has 4,933 international runs and 445 wickets under his belt.
But his legacy was somewhat tarnished in 2021 after he was banned from cricket for eight years after admitting to various breaches of the ICC’s anti-corruption code.
He accepted five charges in relation to his coaching career that he embarked on following his retirement.
This included his stints overseeing the Zimbabwe national team and in T20 leagues across Asia, according to reports.
The ICC found that Streak had shared inside information with an Indian man dubbed “Mr X” as well as players’ contact details.
He was accused of receiving gifts, including bitcoin and an iPhone, between 2017 and 2018.
Streak accepted the ban, which expires in 2029, but denied the allegations of match-fixing.
The Zimbabwean cricket legend said he was ‘hurt’ by the false claimsCredit: AP:Associated Press