By Effort Magoso
WHEN exposed, the dark and sinister side of sport always shocks and hurts many. It is a real kick in the teeth.
Ardent fans woke up to the bitter pill that their idols and generational golden boys are cheats after all.
Banned and disgraced Heath Streak and Brendan Taylor have put cricket fans in that same spot they found themselves on the 11th of April 2000, when it became apparent that former South African skipper, Hansie Cronje was a match fixer who threw several matches for some pieces of silver.
The duo has killed the heart and soul of the game that was invented over four centuries ago, erasing all the trust fans had in them for a dime.
Yes, they are not the first to disappoint in this sport and will certainly not be the last.
In 2011, three Pakistan players, team captain, Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were banned from all forms of cricket for taking bribes from bookmaker, Mazhar Majeed, to deliberately bowl no-balls at pre-arranged periods during a Test match against England.
Former New Zealand great, Lou Vincent was handed a life ban for match-fixing in 2014.
While it is clear match fixing has become a cancer in the sport with cunning mafia syndicates spreading their tentacles everywhere, the Heath Streak and Brendan Taylor episode is, however, devastating for Zimbabwean fans.
Die-hard fans who converge to watch matches at Harare Sports Club’s castle corner are at an ebb.
Streak and Taylor were golden boys of the local game.
Besides being a former Captain, Streak went on to coach the senior team, honours bestowed only to a few in any generation.
One expects those who have had the privilege to play, let alone lead their national sides to be men and women of integrity and unquestionable honesty.
Alas, both Taylor and Streak are not.
Taylor admitted to having played under the influence of drugs, beating the system a few times.
While all looked up to him with admiration, expecting miracles every time he walked to the crease, the lad is a cheat. It will never be easy to stomach that the guy was high on drugs while representing motherland either at home or abroad. Taylor has put all cricket fans in a bad space.
While he penned an emotional letter, obviously seeking a last dash to sugar coat his misdeeds and earn a few hearts back.
He does not deserve a single tear, so does Streak.
The dent they left on cricket and sport in general is unconceivable.
It is not them alone, a whole generation of the Zimbabwe senior football men’s team, the Warriors sold matches in what became known as the Asiagate.
Very sad that men and women in national colours can offer to lose matches for a few green backs.
After this sad epoch, fans now know that not all runs, wickets and wins are real. Some are just drama scripted by bookmakers and executed in exchange for gifts and money.
It is now clear players may be paid to sacrifice wickets, bat poorly, cause runouts, bowl badly or misfield.
Every run, catch or dismissal now has to be subjected to scrutiny, taking away the natural pleasure embedded in sport.
What is now an undeniable fact is that fans are now aware that their idols are not always playing to win, at times they play to lose based on who has paid the piper.
While this cancer is widespread, it is difficult to detect as it is done in high secrecy.
One only hopes, that the Taylor and Streak misdemeanors will serve as a lesson for the current and future generations.
For the shamed duo, maybe it is time to rebuild their lives after their dance with the devil.
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