Fiery cricketer linked to arson
The former Test cricketer Mark Vermeulen, who in September was sanctioned for hurling a cricket ball at and brawling with spectators, now faces two years' jail after being charged with an arson attack on Zimbabwe's cricket academy.
A police spokesman, Andrew Phiri, said the 27-year-old Vermeulen, who reportedly suffers from depression, was being held in custody and was scheduled in court on Friday. He could be jailed for at least two years.
Zimbabwe Cricket, the sport's governing body, quoted witnesses saying Vermeulen was seen near the site of the fire that razed the two-storey straw thatched building in eastern Harare late Tuesday.
The fire destroyed national squad equipment including kit used by players preparing for a trip to Bangladesh, computers and files in offices at the pavilion. There were no reports of injuries.
Officials said Vermeulen, who played eight Test matches and 32 one-day internationals for Zimbabwe, had recently been under medical care for head injuries received in a car accident.
In September, he was banned from playing in England for three years after throwing a ball at and brawling with spectators. Two of the three years were suspended.
Vermeulen was rumoured to have returned to Zimbabwe to fight for a place in the team for next year's World Cup and may have been rebuffed by officials.
He was briefly arrested last month after presenting himself at the gate of the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's heavily guarded official residence in Harare. He was demanding an interview with the patron of cricket in the troubled southern African nation.
Suspicion of arson arose after Zimbabwe Cricket reported an earlier fire, damaging carpets and curtains, in the boardroom of its offices on Monday.
Cricket in Zimbabwe has been afflicted by internal rivalry and charges of racism between officials, resulting in a strike by national players and the departure to play abroad of most experienced white players, including the former captain Heath Streak.
Zimbabwe is one of a 10 Test-playing nations but has only played one-day internationals since the exodus of its main Test players.
Tatenda Taibu, Streak's successor as skipper, fled Zimbabwe after allegedly receiving death threats during a dispute over the captaincy.
He's a nut!!