Zimbabwe offer reformed batsman Mark Vermeulen unlikely lifeline

Cape Town: 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 Aug. 25.

Zimbabwe training squad: Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza Butt, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Steven Chimhamhiwa, Michael Chinouya, Luke Jongwe, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Natsai M`shangwe, Cuthbert Musoko, Richmond Mutumbami, Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya, Mark Vermeulen, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.

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