Media outlets falsely declare former Zimbabwe cricketer Heath Streak dead

Media outlets falsely declare former Zimbabwe cricketer Heath Streak dead

By: soham shah&
August 23 2023

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Media outlets falsely declare former Zimbabwe cricketer Heath Streak dead

(Source: Facebook/Heath Streak/Altered by Logically Facts)

On Wednesday, August 23, 2023, former Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga took to X, formerly Twitter, to clarify that his ex-teammate Heath Streak was alive. This came just hours after Olonga himself shared the news of Streak’s death on the same platform.

In the wee hours of August 23, 2023, Olonga wrote, "Sad news coming through that Heath Streak has crossed to the other side. RIP @ZimCricketv legend. The greatest all rounder we produced. It was a pleasure playing with you. See you on the other side when my bowling spell comes to an end..(sic)." This tweet has now been deleted, but an archive can be seen here.

Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 4.28.45 PM

Henry Olonga falsely declared on social media that Heath Streak had died. (Source:X)


As the news went viral, at around 10 a.m. on August 23, 2023, Olonga shared a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation with Streak on X and wrote, "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 (sic)."

Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 4.31.13 PM

Henry Olonga clarifies that Heath Streak is not dead. (Source:X)

Speaking to English daily Mid-day, Streak himself denied the rumors and said, "It is a total rumour and a lie. 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. I believe the source should apologise. I am hurt by the news (sic)."

Sports and Recreation Commission Zimbabwe also shared a media statement on its Facebook page which said, "If in fact it may not be already clear, Heath Streak is alive." It further added, "Today, of all days, and in the coming days, let us reflect deeply on what we choose to post, whether it is verified and factual, ethical or moral to do so.."


Media outlets report on Streak’s ‘death’

However, by the time this clarification came, the news had spread like wildfire. Based on Olonga’s post, multiple media outlets like Reuters, Outlook, Livemint, Economic Times, and ABP Live reported that Streak had passed away. 

Reuters reported, “Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak, who had been undergoing treatment for cancer, has died at the age of 49, his former team mate Henry Olonga said late on Tuesday.” Reuters also mentioned they had contacted Zimbabwe’s cricket body for a comment.

Livemint’s headline read, “Heath Streak passes away at 49; former Zimbabwe captain loses battle with cancer”. The report detailed his international career, IPL coaching stint, and corruption controversy.

Economic Times went with the headline, “A spell ends: Zimbabwean cricket legend Heath Streak passes away at 49”. The report also said that Streak’s family had not released an official statement.

 Outlook, Livemint and Economic Times had updated their stories at the time of publishing. Reuters published a retraction, while ABP Live’s story is still online and remains unchanged.

The Guardian and Sportstar also published stories on Streak’s death but removed their stories from their websites after Olonga’s clarification. The link and headline are still visible on Google search.

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The Guardian and Sportstar published stories carrying the false news. (Source: Screenshot/Google)

Streak’s death rumors amplified on social media 

Falling for the news, cricketing personalities like Munaf Patel and Sean Williams also posted condolence messages.

Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 4.43.46 PMFamous cricketers posting condolences based on the false news. (Source:X)

Cricketers Anil Kumble and journalist Abhishek Baxi are a few others who fell for this false news.

Reports on Streak’s health

In May 2023, it was reported that Streak had been struggling with stage 4 colon and liver cancer. A statement by his family read, “Heath has cancer and is undergoing treatment under one of the most respected Oncologists in South Africa.” The statement came in light of media reports which had declared Streak critically ill and on his deathbed, The Indian Express said.

The statement also warned against false news about Streak’s health by saying, “There will be no further official statements regarding his health at this time. Any news that becomes public should be regarded as rumour.”

Born in 1974 in Bulawayo, Streak is an all-rounder who has played for the Zimbabwe cricket team from 1993 to 2005 with captaincy stints in between. He has coached IPL and Zimbabwe teams, and was banned for eight years on corruption charges in 2021.



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