MARK Vermeulen could soon return to the Zimbabwe fold after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) accepted his apology for two arson attacks committed two years ago and announced he can be considered for selection again.
The talented right-handed batsman is currently playing in the National League which started on Monday.
The 29-year-old Vermeulen was cleared of arson by a Harare court last January on mental illness grounds.
He was facing trial for setting fire to the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy and part of the ZC boardroom at Harare Sports Club in October 2006.
Last May Vermeulen told this paper that he had approached ZC with an offer to help rebuild the academy in exchange for a contract.
“I’m jobless at the moment, the only job I can do is play cricket,” he said. “I’ve kindly asked ZC to give me my job back, then I will give a percentage of my earning towards the rebuilding of the Academy.”
ZC managing director Ozias Bvute this week confirmed the decision to unconditionally offer Vermeulen another chance.
“There was actually no ban on him, but relations were restrained after the two arson attacks on the Academy and Harare Sports Club boardroom,” Bvute told IndependentSport this week.
“He approached us with a desire to play in our leagues. Having weighed various issues we decided it was in his best interest to be allowed to play since he indicated that cricket was the only thing he lives for.
“Should he make the grade, he will be selected (for the national team). The decision was driven by a desire to help rehabilitate him, taking into account that he served Zimbabwe well when he first played for the national side. Life is such that everyone deserves a second chance.”
Vermeulen played 32 ODIs and eight Tests between 2000 and 2004, averaging 20,82 and 25,87 respectively.
A superb player of pace bowling and timer of the ball, Vermeuelen was one of a few white players who did not join the “rebel” exodus in 2004.
His comeback will be a welcome move for the Zimbabwe team. While the bowlers have generally performed well of late, the batting line-up has been the team’s Achilles Heel and will certainly do with a classy addition in Vermeulen.
BY ENOCK MUCHINJO