Mark Vermeulen, the former Zimbabwean Test batsman, has created an unusual record in domestic cricket in the southern African country by appearing for four different teams in successive seasons.
The 32-year-old played in first-class cricket for Westerns in 2008/09, followed by Matabeleland Tuskers in 2009/10, Mountaineers in 2010/11 and now Southern Rocks in 2011/12. The only team in Zimbabwe so far denied his services are the Mid-West Rhinos, and we will have to wait until this time next year to see whether he completes what would be a quite remarkable sequence!
A number of county cricketers have appeared for four counties, especially in recent years with an increase in what social scientists would call ‘labour migration’. Among the earliest batch to play for four counties was fast bowler Allan Jones, who appeared for Sussex between 1966 and 1969, then Somerset from 1970 until 1975, followed by Middlesex between 1976 and 1979, and finally Glamorgan in 1980 and 1981.
Few players, however, have emulated Vermuelen’s feat by playing for four different counties in successive seasons. An exception was Australian batsman Marcus North, who played County Championship cricket for Durham in 2004, Lancashire in 2005, Derbyshire in 2006 and then Gloucestershire in 2007 (and again in 2008).
His apparent mobility around the county circuit was largely the result of the batsman and off-spinner being on an Australian contract and unable to commit himself over a longer time period to a single county. Indeed, his role as an overseas locum took him to Hampshire in 2009, but having lost his ACB contract North will head further west in 2012 as he joins Glamorgan as their overseas player for the next two summers.
North’s sequence of appearing for four counties in successive summers may, however, be equalled next summer by Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The West Indian batsman played for Durham from 2007 until 2009, before joining Lancashire in 2010 and then Warwickshire in 2011. The West Midlands side have hinted that they could opt for an overseas spinner in 2012, leaving Chanderpaul with the possibility of joining Vermuelen and North in playing for four different first-class teams in successive seasons.