In 1900, Gloucestershire fast-bowler Archie Fargus made his county championship debut, against Middlesex at Lord’s, and rattled through the home batting for match figures of 12 for 87.

It was a sensational start for the fast-bowler and though he was only to play 28 first-class matches before entering the clergy full-time, for the rest of his life he was able to take pride in the best bowling figures ever recorded by a player on debut for a county.

After his death, in 1963, Fargus’s record remained intact for another 41 years, and had lasted 104 years in all, until June 2004. Then Heath Streak made his championship debut for Warwickshire, against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston, and took 13 for 158.

In my first year we won the championship under Knighty and it was really special to be part of a team which won a trophy as prestigious as that.

Heath Streak

The experienced Zimbabwean actually started in very ropy fashion, pitching short in his first two overs which he ended with figures of 2-0-18-0. But the first ball of his third over landed in Tony Frost’s gloves via Tim Roberts’ outside-edge – and Streak was up and running. Seven for 80 in the first innings was followed by six for 78 in the second and he chipped in a half-century with the bat for good measure as Warwickshire won by innings to cement their pace at the top of the table.

Not a bad debut then. And a few weeks later Warwickshire were celebrating the title, under coach John Inverarity and captain Nick Knight. It amounted to the perfect entry to the Bears for Streak – and although his four-year stay with the club was to become increasingly affected by injury, it is a time of which the all-rounder, now back home in Zimbabwe where last year he was appointed coach of the national team, has very happy recollections.

“In my first year we won the championship under Knighty and it was really special to be part of a team which won a trophy as prestigious as that,” Streak said. “I started well with a seven-for and a six-for – I didn’t realise it was the best by a Warwickshire debutant!

“We played some good, solid four-day cricket and also some decent one-day cricket but just never really kicked on in the shorter formats. It was a case of near-misses, in T20 especially. Like in the home game against Worcestershire when we needed 20 off the last three balls and, after a no ball and a couple of sixes, it came down to four off the last ball. I hit it well to deep point and if it had been three or four yards either side it would have been four but the fielder stopped it. It was a great game and I ended up with 70, I think, but we lost so it was bitter sweet.

“But I’ve got a lot of very fond memories of my time at Warwickshire, not just of the cricket but of the friends I made. There are some great people at the club and we had some special times. My kids were quite young then and they loved living in Birmingham and in the UK. They were four great years for us.”

They were the last four years of an impressive career during which Streak played 65 Tests and 189 ODIs for Zinbabwe and became one of the most highly-respected players, and subsequently coaches, in world cricket.

His time with the Bears included a spell as captain but, after skippering the side in 2006, he resigned after the first match of 2007, passing the reins to Darren Maddy in the light of nagging injury problems. When he played in the last championship match of that season, the defeat to Lancashire at Old Trafford which confirmed relegation, it was his final appearance in first-class cricket.

“It was disappointing as my time went on at Warwickshire because I was increasingly troubled by my back,” he said.

“I could not put the time in that I needed to and reach the skill-levels that I was used to. I was not fully fit so resigned the captaincy so that the club would not be under pressure to pick me.

“I was offered a one-day contract for the following season and was tempted to take it up because I really enjoyed it at Warwickshire and, although my back could not stand up to the rigours of four-day cricket, it could handle one-day games. But then I was offered a contract in the ICL, which preceded the IPL, and that was too good an opportunity to turn down.”

A decade on, now 43, Streak remains deeply embedded in cricket, primarily as coach for the national team, a job which he took on last spring. His family still lives on the ranch outside Bulawayo which has been in the family since 1899 and they run a holiday business and host safari tours there.

The ranch is my retirement package. I spend some time there and it is lovely to get away from cricket sometimes but cricket is very much my life.

Heath Streak

But, for Heath, for now cricket remains front and centre of his working life.

“The ranch is my retirement package,” he said. “I spend some time there and it is lovely to get away from cricket sometimes but cricket is very much my life.

“My coaching career was launched in earnest in 2010 when I started up my academy and I have coached in the IPL for a couple of seasons and the will be doing that again this year.

“It’s great to be coaching Zimbabwe and we have had a good year. The recent four-day Test in South Africa didn’t go too well for us but last year we competed well against a West Indies side which then beat England and we beat Sri Lanka in an away ODI series which was a fantastic effort.

“The guys have made a lot of progress and now we just need to keep working hard and hopefully get the volume of cricket we need to keep improving.”

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