Mark Vermeulen: Controversial Zimbabwe batsmen 'exemplary' in time at Newquay

By Henry JusticeBBC Kick Off sports reporter
Mark Vermeulen
Mark Vermeulen is the third-highest run-scorer in Cornwall this year, with a top score of 146 not out

Controversial cricketer Mark Vermeulen has been praised for his conduct during his spell at Cornish club side Newquay.

The 37-year-old former Zimbabwe Test player has previously been banned for using racist language and for an altercation with a spectator.

He also admitted burning down Zimbabwe's cricket academy in 2006, but was later cleared of arson because of mental illness.

"Mark has been exemplary off the field, and we've been absolutely delighted with his attitude on it," Newquay chairman Dave Eggins told BBC Sport.

Mark Vermeulen's controversial career
June 2003: Sent home from Zimbabwe's tour of England for persistent misconduct
September 2006: Banned for a year by the ECB after an altercation with a fan during a Lancashire club match - he had initially been banned from playing in England for 10 years but the sentence was reduced on appeal
January 2008: Cleared by a court of arson because of mental illness,external-link having admitted brining down the Zimbabwe cricket academy in 2006
October 2015: Banned by Zimbabwe's cricket authorities after using racist language in a social media post.

The team are set to finish bottom of the Cornwall Premier League, having failed to win a game so far this season.

"Despite the obvious case for frustration, Mark has behaved absolutely perfectly, and we've had no issues," added Eggins.

"As a club, the one disappointment is that we're going to be losing him at the end of the season."

The opening batsman has played nine Tests and 43 one-day internationals during his career, and last represented Zimbabwe in a nine-wicket defeat by South Africa in Harare in August 2014.

And Vermeulen, whose highest Test score is 118 against the West Indies in 2003, says he has been impressed with the standard of Cornish cricket.

"A lot of it is to do with finances within the game, and some clubs are better off than others, but in general Cornish cricket looks in a very good place," he said.

Mark Vermeulen
Vermeulen has twice suffered a fractured skull during his career

"The pitches are in good shape, and there's four or five very good cricketers in each team"

Vermeulen, who scored 550 runs for Newquay at an average of 39.29, is now turning his attention to helping other cricketers develop their skills after he leaves the club at the end of the season:

"I'm probably going to be looking at getting into coaching, I'm getting a bit too old now for the game," he added.

"The body gets a bit sore and it takes a few days of bed rest to recover."

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