The 33-year-old former Zimbabwean opening batsman, Mark Vermeulen, has this season become the first cricketer to play for all five provincial or franchise teams in the country. He began his career with Mashonaland A (more as a parallel than a second team, a fairly even splitting of the over-strong Mashonaland province) back in 1997/98, and then moved to Bulawayo to play for Matabeleland.
Two seasons ago he played for Mountaineers, but a dispute with the administrators there led to a move to Masvingo to play for Southern Rocks last season. After a few weeks, however, he announced his retirement from cricket owing to a chronic back condition. Consequently many are surprised to see him turning out for the fifth franchise team, Mid-West Rhinos, this season.
Vermeulen has a simple explanation: as soon as he corrected his golf swing, he says, his back problem cleared up. He was contacted a month before the start of the season by Grant Flower, the newly appointed coach of Mid-West Rhinos, and had no hesitation in signing up for the Kwekwe-based franchise. He admitted that he prefers life in Kwekwe to Masvingo, where he could find little to do outside cricketing hours.