Vermeulen completes comeback

HARARE - Mark Vermeulen will play his first Test match since 2004 after he was named in the 12-man team for the one-off Test against South Africa beginning at Harare Sports Club today.

The selectors also named players with no Test caps, spinner John Nyumbu and seamer Donald Tiripano, but only Nyumbu is likely to receive his maiden cap today, paving way for Vermeulen’s remarkable comeback to the five-day format.

Vermeulen’s comeback looked on course last week after he was named in a 25-man training squad.

It has been a meteoric comeback for the fiery Harare-born cricketer, who has a chequered disciplinary history.

The 35-year-old was cleared in a court in 2008 despite admitting setting fire two years earlier to the union offices at Harare Sports Club and an academy pavilion at another location.

He was cleared after arguing he was suffering from problems related to epilepsy caused by being hit on the head by a ball during a game.

“He’s put his hand up. He’s really looking solid at the moment and he’s actually really calm for once, which is great,” Zimbabwe Test captain Brendan Taylor told reporters yesterday.

“He brings a lot of experience to the table, he’s got a great cricketing brain and he’s full of constructive ideas, hopefully he can just have his claim that he has been having in the last couple of weeks and put up a good fight.”

Vermeulen last played international cricket against South Africa in 2009 in an away ODI series.

His recent domestic form, coupled with his runs for Zimbabwe A in a four-day match series against Afghanistan A, has also helped his cause.

Meanwhile, Matabeleland Tuskers off-spinner John Nyumbu and Manicaland Mountaineers seamer Donald Tiripano were also included in the squad of 12.

Tiripano played in the recent drawn ODI series against Afghanistan and will be looking to make his Test debut today. He was the country’s top wicket-taker last season with 34 at an economy rate of 2.82.

Nyumbu was the second leading wicket- taker with 34 wickets in the Logan Cup last season from eight matches. The 29-year-old Bulawayo-born spinner took an innings best of six wickets for 59 results and match stats of 9-147 at an economic rate of 3.00.

“We are still assessing the conditions of the pitch, whether we get the extra all-rounder or we get the spinner and will make that decision tomorrow (today),” Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo said.

“In the last domestic first-class competition programme, he (Nyumbu) was the top spinner, nice wicket taker and has been consistent in the last three seasons. Last season he was really outstanding and it has been a reward of sheer hard work by John and he thoroughly deserves his opportunity.”

Teams

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano, Mark Vermeulen, Sean Williams.

South Africa: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers (Vice-Capt), Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.

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