FORMER Zimbabwe cricket captain and coach Heath Streak believes he could have joined the exclusive club of 300-Test wicket takers had he added a few more seasons to his playing career.
Taking 300 or more wickets across a playing career is considered a significant achievement in
Test cricket .
The feat, first accomplished by Englishman Fred Trueman in 1964, has only been achieved by 33 cricketers in the history of the game as of March 2020.
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are yet to see a player reach the 300 mark.
Streak, who is Zimbabwe’s all-time leading wicket taker in both Test and ODI matches, ended his career prematurely at the height of domestic problems in Zimbabwe in 2005.
Retiring at 31, he felt he missed the best part of his career, after an international adventure spanning 12 years.
Streak played 65 tests for Zimbabwe and took 216 wickets and 189 ODIs which gave him 239 wickets.
Ray Price is the second best on the Test wicket ladder with 80 scalps and, from the current crop Kyle Jarvis has 46.
Streak spoke to our Senior Reporter, Eddie Chikamhi (EC), about his career:
EC: This feat makes you the most successful bowler in Zim, what was the secret behind your success?
Heath Streak (HS): “It was just hard work. I think I was prepared to put in the time and the effort and practicing smart.
“You have to master basic skills, and I did that from a very young age and I was able to develop other variations which then made me the bowler I was.
“But, I think the most important thing was that my foundation, in terms of skills, was really solid and I could rely on that. It really made a difference.
EC: What was your most memorable game in Zim colours and why?
HS: “My most memorable game was probably winning against South Africa at the 1999 World Cup in Chelmsford. That game was the one that really got us to qualify for the last six in the World Cup. That was a magical time for Zimbabwe Cricket.
“We had a wonderful team which was very proud to be able to take us to that stage, it feels so special.”
EC: “Who was the most difficult opponent(s) you faced during your career?
HS: “I would probably say Australia were the most difficult team to face. They were really tough opponents. They played hard, they played fair, they always intimidated you and they really pushed you.
“They have been one of the top cricketing countries in the world for many years and at the time we played them they had some really serious players.
“The Waugh brothers, Sharne Warne, Glen McGrath, all those icons of world cricket. The likes of Ricky Ponting, Matthew Heyden etc. I must say they were a very daunting team to play against and we had some tough games against them.”
EC: “Retired early at 31, with 216 Test wickets and 239 ODI wickets, you should have missed out so much on the last part of your career?”
HS: “Obviously, we had issues with Zimbabwe Cricket and, unfortunately, myself and people like Tatenda Taibu’s careers were cut short.
“I went overseas and played in the UK so I missed out on probably four or five of the best years of my international career.
“If I had carried on until 35 or 36 playing for Zimbabwe, I could have probably got in excess of 300 or 350 wickets in both forms. It was regrettable and one of those sad things.”
EC: “Zim seemed to face a dearth of genuine pace bowling in past few years, what do you suggest we should do as a nation?
HS: “I think for Zimbabwe, it’s not a lack of people with skills and the physical attributes. Zimbabweans by nature are very physically strong people.
“So, I think it’s just the way we look after our bowlers. Probably, because we are a small country, we tend to overwork our quick bowlers.
“When I go back and look at the likes of Andy Blignaut, Elton Chigumbura, Chamu Chibhabha, Brighton Watambwa, Everton Matambanadzo, all these guys were really quick when they started their careers and had great potential.
“Henry Olonga was consistently quick but he had lots of injuries.
“So, we have had a number of these type of bowlers in Zimbabwe and we just failed to handle the work load and they ended up with injuries which pulled them back.
“I think we just need to look after them and reward them better so that they don’t have to be under pressure. Maybe, putting some guidelines to help look after them.
EC: Tell us about the Heath Streak Foundation and the Academy. How successful has it been?
HS: “The Academy has been going on since 2014-15 and I think it’s been very successful. We have produced a lot of good age-group players who represented Zimbabwe at various levels from the Under-12 right through to some of the national Under-19 players we saw, guys like Jonathan Connelly.
“Thankfully, companies like Old Mutual and others have played a big part in helping us run the academy and keeping a high calibre organisation. I hope that they can continue and we also continue to produce good players for the future of Zimbabwean cricket.”