Mark Vermeulen returns to Zimbabwe training squad


Harare: Zimbabwe recalled batsman Mark Vermeulen to their cricket squad on Monday, six years after he was cleared of arson on psychiatric grounds after setting fire to the national union’s headquarters and an academy building.

Vermeulen was cleared in a court in 2008 despite admitting setting fire two years earlier to the union offices at the Harare Sports Club Test venue and an academy pavilion at another location. He successfully argued that at the time he set the fires at the two buildings he was suffering from problems related to epilepsy caused by being hit on the head by a ball during a game.

The 35-year-old Vermeulen’s recall came after he recently made a century for Zimbabwe A against Afghanistan. He was part of a 25-man squad named by new coach Stephen Mangongo for tours by South Africa and Australia this month. Vermeulen played the last of his eight Tests in 2004. He made a brief comeback to the ODI team in 2009.

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South Africa, the top-ranked team, visits for a one-off Test at Harare starting on Saturday. The teams will then contest a three-game one-day series before Australia arrives for a triangular series and their first visit to Zimbabwe in a decade.

Vermeulen was joined by six uncapped players in Mangongo’s first squad since taking charge. They are Taurai Muzarabani, Steven Chimhamhiwa, Luke Jongwe, Cuthbert Musoko, Neville Madziva and John Nyumbu.

Batsman Brendan Taylor will captain the Zimbabwe team in the Test and allrounder Elton Chigumbura will lead the ODI team.

Mili Thakur