Zimbabwe hand cricket lifeline to Vermeulen

The Harare Sports Club in Harare,  Zimbabwe. Picture: AP
The Harare Sports Club in Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: AP
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MARK VERMEULEN, who admitted burning down Zimbabwe’s cricket academy in 2006 but was acquitted on the grounds of mental illness, has been named in the country’s training squad for matches against South Africa and Australia this month.

The 35-year-old batsman last played for Zimbabwe in a 50-over match against South Africa in 2009, while his last Test appearance was more than a decade ago against Sri Lanka.

He retired from all forms of cricket in 2011 in the hope of forging a career in golf but that was short-lived and within a year he was back playing on the Zimbabwe domestic scene.

He could now make the most unlikely of comebacks to the national side, who are reeling after letting a 2-0 lead slip in last month’s drawn four-match limited-overs series against Afghanistan.

Vermeulen, who was also banned for a year by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2006 after an altercation with a spectator at a Central Lancashire League club match, is one of 25 players named by Zimbabwe Cricket for the training squad.

The country will host a one-off Test against the Proteas starting on Saturday, before three one-day internationals against their neighbours.

Australia then join the pair for a one-day international triangular tournament that starts on 25 August.