Boucher is highly regarded as the best wicketkeeper batsman South Africa ever had
South African wicketkeeper batsman Mark Boucher has ended his international cricket career after suffering a freak eye injury on the opening day of a warm-up match against Somerset.
Boucher left the field after the 46th over when Imran Tahir bowled a googly that hit the stumps and dislodged the bails, upon where one of the bails struck Boucher in his left eye.
After a closer inspection, Boucher was diagnosed with a lacerated eyeball and announced that he will travel with South Africa, who are currently playing a Test series against England, once he is cleared to travel.
After undergoing a three-hour operation, Boucher said that he will face an “uncertain recovery”.
South African captain Graeme Smith also read a statement written by Boucher, in which it said: “It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement. Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play international cricket again. I had prepared for this UK tour as well, if not better than I have prepared for any tour in my career. I had never anticipated announcing my retirement now, but circumstances have dictated differently. I have a number of thank you’s to make to people who have made significant contributions during my International career, which I will do in due course. For now I would like to thank the huge number of people, many of whom are strangers, for their heartfelt support during the past 24 hours. I am deeply touched by all the well wishes. I wish the team well in the UK, as I head home and onto a road of uncertain recovery.”
Smith also had a few words for Boucher on behalf of the entire South African team.
Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances, for the 14 years of your international career, you have been a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything. You have been a 100 percenter for this team. You have been more than a performer, you have been a motivator, an inspirer, an energizer… and a good friend to many. You leave us today with sad hearts, but also with a deep gratitude for your contributions to our team, and to us as people. The fighting spirit you brought to team remains with us. We wish you a good as possible recovery from your injury. As we bid you a farewell as an International cricketer and wish you well for your future, we keep you as a friend and respected Proteas warrior,” Smith said.
The current England tour was supposed to be Boucher’s last before he was to formally announce his retirement.
Boucher was supposed to finish his career at Lord’s, which is known as the home of cricket, and it would have also been his 150th Test appearance for South Africa.
Boucher will now end his career on 999 international dismissals, 555 of them coming in just 147 Test matches, which is a cricket record.
Speaking exclusively to ESPNcricinfo, South Africa manager Mohammed Moosajee said: “The extent of the eye injury can be described as severe. The eyeball (globe of the eye) was repaired during the operation, the long-term prognosis at this stage remains unknown. He will return home as soon as able to travel and the selectors will announce a replacement shortly.”
The South African selectors are pondering over who will take over the wicketkeeping duties of South Africa.
One likely candidate is Thami Tsolekile, who was nationally signed on April 1.
However, AB de Villiers has kept wicket for South Africa in the first two Test matches against England.
South Africa currently hold a 1-0 lead over the top ranked Test side in the world, and will overtake the English if they manage to win the series.