Vermeulen fired by Mountaineers

Mark Vermeulen leaves the High Court in Harare AFP

Batsman Mark Vermeulen has lost his contract with Zimbabwe domestic franchise Mountaineers. While the circumstances of Vermeulen's exit are not entirely clear, reports in local newspapers suggest his relationship with the franchise broke down after he was handed a three-match suspension for angrily contesting two decisions in a Logan Cup match against Mashonaland Eagles at Mutare Sports Club last month.

According to Mountaineers chief executive officer, Philip Senzani, Vermeulen reacted with incredulity at his suspension and demanded all the money he was meant to be paid for the remainder of the season. That demand was turned down, and as well as missing the Met Bank Pro40 semi-final and and the Logan Cup final, Vermeulen also had his domestic contract scrapped by the franchise.

"The younger players are doing very well," said Senzani. "They are scoring hundreds and some are doing well with the ball, so we are taking a shift next season and Vermeulen is going to be one of the casualties. If you were a coach, or if you were in my position, you would probably do the same. We are taking an Arsenal approach to doing things - we are no longer going for the [big] names but nurturing talent."

"He is not the only one who is frustrated, most senior guys are feeling the heat from the young players and we are excited with the way the boys are coming up. He [Vermeulen] knows that at the end of the day he is going to be judged by his figures."

Those figures suggest that Vermeulen has had a reasonable first-class season, while his returns in limited-overs cricket have been somewhat mediocre. The loss of his contract may well mark the end of Vermeulen's professional career.

He has been dogged by disciplinary problems for some time, and increasingly erratic behaviour culminated in his burning down of the Cricket Academy pavilion in Harare. He was cleared of arson charges on psychiatric grounds and after a period of rehabilitation staged a remarkable international comeback as well as securing a domestic contract with Matabeleland Tuskers. That relationship ended poorly last year, but Vermeulen was given an opportunity by Mountaineers. Now, however, it appears his options have run out.