Midwest Rhinos strengthen squad

HARARE - Unsettled Zimbabwean cricketer Mark Vermeulen — who recently turned to amateur golf for solace — has been thrown yet another cricket lifeline after Midwest Rhinos signed him on this week ahead of the upcoming 2012-13 season.

Vermeulen, whose career has been blighted by a chequered disciplinary record, joins the Kwekwe-based franchise on an earn-as-you-play contract.

It’s not the first time the talented former Zimbabwe Test opener has been offered an opportunity to revive his cricket career. Only two seasons ago he was brought to Manicaland Mountaineers by the franchise’s coach Steve Mangongo, who is a great admirer of the volatile top-order batsman.

Rhinos have further intensified efforts to fight for honours in the new season by signing South African-born Steve Trenchard from Matabeleland Tuskers.

The franchise’s coach, national team batting coach Grant Flower, has also reportedly opened negotiations with former English county side Essex for the release of England Under-19 wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and batsman Jaik Mickeleburgh, who are expected to join the club as overseas professionals.

Ziehl said the franchise has retained the national team quartet of franchise captain Vusi Sibanda, national side skipper Brendan Taylor, emerging seam bowler Richard Muzhange and forgotten pace bowler Ed Rainsford.

Rhinos chief executive Kenyon Ziehl believes his side’s three-year barren spell will come to an end this season.

“We have laid the foundation for three good years and it’s now time to wrap it up by winning at least one championship from the three tournaments on the domestic calendar,” Ziehl told the Daily News yesterday."

“We have to put silverware in the cabinet, our ladies team is leading the way and it should be the other way round. The boys will be motivated to produce results or else they risk being the franchise’s laughing stock.”

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