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Vermeulen held over blaze at cricket academy

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Harare:Controversial former Zimbabwe Test player Mark Vermeulen was being questioned by police over a suspected arson attack on the national cricket training academy in Harare.

The pavilion and computer equipment as well as kit were destroyed by the blaze on Tuesday night at the training centre, a day after a suspicious fire at Zimbabwe Cricket's (ZC) boardroom at the Harare Sports Club which caused minor damage.

"He's been detained since yesterday on charges of arson," Vermeulen's father Roland told AFP.

"We don't know at the moment where they are holding him ... but we are trying our best to get him out and sort matters while he is outside."

"Police cells are not the best place to be."

Harare police spokesman Andrew Phiri confirmed Vermeulen's arrest.

"He is a suspect in connection with the arson attack at the cricket academy," he told AFP.

The police have also seized a family car which Vermeulen is alleged to have driven to the academy, said his father.

The 27-year-old Vermeulen, who played the last of his eight Tests in 2004, recently returned to Zimbabwe after a stint playing league cricket in England where he was slapped with a lengthy ban for throwing a ball at spectators.

He was also sent home from the 2003 tour of England after a string of run-ins with the management, including a refusal to travel with the rest of the team after he was twice out for a duck in the same Test match.

Vermeulen was badly injured on a tour of Australia two years ago when he was struck in the head from a ball and has since been reportedly diagonosed with a depressive illness.

Since his return from England, the right-handed batsman has spoken of his desire to win back his place in the national side.

The incident is the latest blow to Zimbabwe cricket which has been rocked by a string of crises since co-hosting the 2003 World Cup with South Africa and Kenya.

Henry Olonga, Zimbabwe's first black international cricketer, and his white compatriot Andy Flower, the country's leading batsman, took to the field for a match during the tournament wearing black armbands "to mourn the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe.

Since then, the team have lost their Test match status while other top players such as captain Heath Streak have quit the team.

AFPControversial former Zimbabwe Test player Mark Vermeulen was being questioned by police over a suspected arson attack on the national cricket training academy in Harare.

The pavilion and computer equipment as well as kit were destroyed by the blaze on Tuesday night at the training centre, a day after a suspicious fire at Zimbabwe Cricket's (ZC) boardroom at the Harare Sports Club which caused minor damage.

AFP

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