Harare: Former Test player Mark Vermeulen admitted on Thursday torching the Zimbabwe Cricket Association's (ZCA) headquarters but pleaded not guilty to arson on the grounds he had been suffering psychiatric problems.
At the start of his trial, Vermeulen entered a not guilty plea over the torching of the ZCA offices at the Harare Sports Club in October 2006 and an arson attack at the national training academy the next day.
Vladimir Rajkovic, a private psychiatrist in Harare, said the 29-year-old was not disputing he had carried out the attacks but said his client had suffered from partial complex epilepsy and impulsive behaviour disorder after he was hit and injured by a cricket ball during a match in Australia.
"The illness causes loss of impulse control and compromises anger management," the doctor said.
"Mark needs lifelong medication to prevent any stressor causing an epileptic discharge because of that injury."
Rajkovic said the cricketer had shown "significant improvement" since he started treating him six months ago.
"When I first met him he was this young, spoilt, cocky and somewhat arrogant young man so full of himself," he said.
"What struck me first was his nonchalant approach to the whole case. From the little golden boy, he has suddenly realised, after he started taking his medication, that life can be tough. We now have here a humble young man, not a sports star.
"As his body matures, his body will mend the injury."
Munyaradzi Madombiro, a government psychiatrist, said: "The damage that has been caused to causes this behaviour."
He said the condition could only be controlled by medication and could not be cured.
The 29-year-old batsman, who played the last of his eight Test matches in 2004, faces two counts of arson and if convicted he faces 25 years in prison with hard labour.
Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe adjourned the trial to Jan 30.