Arthur remembers all the good and bad times he and Boucher went through together
Former South Africa and current Australia coach Mickey Arthur has heaped praise and support for South African wicketkeeper batsman Mark Boucher, calling him “phenomenal” after being forced into premature retirement from a freak eye injury.
On the opening day of a warm-up match against Somerset, Boucher was struck on the eye by a bail that was dislodged after Imran Tahir bowled a googly that hit the stumps, and the wicketkeeper batsman was rushed to the hospital to undergo a three hour surgery.
Boucher was set to return home after completing the surgery, and on his behalf, South African captain Graeme Smith read a statement out, which confirmed Boucher’s decision to retire from international cricket.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Radio, Arthur said: “I was really disappointed for him, I know he wanted to come here because he wanted it to be his real swansong as a Test series, so it is really disappointing to end this way for Mark.”
Arthur, who has helped Boucher work on both his international and domestic career, also said: “I have lots of memories as his coach, too many memories. I was really close to Mark, I had a special affinity for him, I knew his family very well.”
The current Australian coach also recalled a time in Boucher’s career where he was dropped for a tour against India in 2004.
“We went through a lot of hard times together, a lot of blood, sweat and tears with Bouch. I thought he was a fine cricketer a guy you really wanted on your side, a guy that never, ever gave up, fought to the bitter end and that’s how I’ll always remember him,” Arthur said.
Boucher is the first wicketkeeper in cricketing history to reach 500 Test catches, and Arthur doesn’t doubt the quality of his keeping abilities at all.
“I think he’s right up there (with the best wicketkeepers), you have a look at his batting and wicketkeeping stats and they’re phenomenal,” Arthur added.
With Boucher out of the picture, AB de Villiers will put on the gloves until a suitable replacement is found for Boucher.
“They do need to get over it, I’m sure they will. He’s going to be missed hugely though, I remember the series we (South Africa) won here in 2008, the Test match we won at Edgbaston was on the back of a very good innings by Graeme Smith, but Bouch was there at the end of it. I remember him telling me at tea time, he said ‘coach if I’m at the wicket, and I will be there, we’re going to win the series, we didn’t come all the way to lose this’. That just typified exactly what he was like. He was always in there, he was always up for a challenge. I’ve been in contact, and it is uncertain for him. Let’s just hope that he gets his eyesight back and everything’s good,” Arthur said.