Mark Andrew Vermeulen
March 02, 1979, Salisbury (now Harare)
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Prince Edward High, Harare
Mark Vermeulen's life and career changed forever on January 20, 2004, when he was struck a sickening blow on the head by Irfan Pathan during Zimbabwe's VB Series campaign in Australia. Two-and-a-half erratic years later, in October 2006, he was arrested after setting fire to the offices of the Harare Sports Club and the National Academy, but was cleared at his subsequent trial in January 2008, on the grounds that he had been suffering psychiatric problems, including partial complex epilepsy, ever since the injury. That seemed to signal the end of his career, but he refused to accept that and his perseverance was rewarded in 2009 when the Zimbabwe board agreed to offer him another chance.
During his career he was attacking and naturally athletic, and was first drafted into the Zimbabwe team for the second Test against Pakistan in November 2002, at the expense of Guy Whittall. At his most comfortable against pace bowling, Vermeulen was a back-foot player by inclination, particularly strong on the cut, pull and hook shots, although he was also a sweet timer of the ball through the covers. A former captain of Zimbabwe's Under-19 team, Vermeulen had a desire to succeed that - even before his injury - could spill over into petulance and worse. In 1996 he was banned from representing his school, Prince Edward High in Harare, for walking off with the stumps after receiving a poor lbw decision and locking himself in the changing room. That was a sign of things to come. He was sent home during the second Test of the 2003 England tour when, after becoming only the 13th man in Test history to record a pair on the same day of a match, ignored a management instruction to travel with the rest of the squad on the coach, instead choosing to leave the ground on his own. He had earlier refused to stop a ball at Hove because "it was too cold" and had also had run-ins with the team manager.
On the pitch he made a few decent scores in one-day internationals and played three matches in the 2003 World Cup. He was an excellent slip fielder, an occasional offbreak bowler, and a former national junior javelin champion.
Despite his troubles Vermeulen had an excellent 2004-05 season in which he averaged 43.60 in domestic cricket but the rise in his numbers coincided with economic decline and political turmoil and he did not immediately have the opportunity to see if that could translate on the cricket field.
In 2009, Vermeulen made a brief comeback for ODIs against South Africa but then disappeared off the radar again while he made his way around Zimbabwe's domestic circuit. He spent time at the Tuskers, Mid-West Rhinos, Mountaineers and Southern Rocks and completed a full house of playing for all the teams in the country when he returned to the Eagles in his home-town of Harare.
Although he had a side career in golf, Vermeulen decided to make the 2013-14 season his final go at trying to be an international cricketer. The domestic season was stalled by a player strike but once it got underway, Vermeulen made good on his commitment. He was the second-highest run scorer in the Logan Cup with 580 runs in seven matches at an average of 64.44.
In July 2014 he was given hope that his international career would be resurrected when he was picked for the Zimbabwean A side to play Afghanistan. He scored a century in the first four-day match and could not be overlooked for the one-off Test against South Africa which followed. Brendan Taylor described him as "calm, for a change". A decade after last playing in whites for Zimbabwe, Vermeulen made a comeback in August 2014.
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