South Africa in England 2012 July 10, 2012

Eye injury ends Boucher's career


Mark Boucher has retired from international cricket after undergoing surgery on the severe eye injury he sustained on the opening day against Somerset. Boucher admitted he faces an "uncertain recovery" after his three-hour operation on Monday evening.

Boucher had to leave the field at the end of the 46th over of Somerset's innings on Monday when a googly from Imran Tahir hit the stumps and a dislodged bail struck Boucher in the left eye. He was diagnosed with a lacerated eyeball and he will return to South Africa as soon as he is able to travel.

In a statement read out by Graeme Smith, Boucher 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 spoke on behalf of the team: "Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances," he said. "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."

This tour to England was set to be his final duty for South Africa and the Lord's Test would have been his 150th appearance. Boucher will end on 998 international dismissals, including 555 from 147 Tests, which is a record. He also took a catch in the field against West Indies when AB de Villiers was keeping.

"The extent of the eye injury can be described as severe. The eyeball (globe of the eye) was repaired during the operation," Mohammed Moosajee, the South Africa manager, told ESPNcricinfo earlier on Tuesday. "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 Africa selectors will name a replacement for Boucher on Wednesday. Thami Tsolekile, earmarked as the successor to Boucher and nationally contracted from April 1, is the likeliest candidate to be called up. However, the coach Gary Kirsten said AB de Villiers would take the gloves for the first Test at The Oval.

Tsolekile recently played for the South Africa A side in the two unofficial Tests against Sri Lanka A and has also been named in the squad to travel to Ireland to shadow the senior side from the third Test. He last played for South Africa in 2004 when he represented the country in three Tests including one against England at Port Elizabeth.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanjeev on July 13, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    Very sad news indeed..............

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Good luck in your future career Mr Boucher. Sorry it had to end this way.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    why to left helmet keeping close to the wicket?i wish a good recovery for bouch!!!

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    Shame what a way to go, as a result of a hell of an unfortunate freak event. All the best for his retirement.

  • rushda on July 12, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Boucher was the best wicketkeeper and very gentlemanly cricketer, never saw him in any nneccesary trouble.I always saw Kallis,boucher and smith as package deal for SA, IT really hurts to see him like that.Best wishes to him, team and family. hope to see u at least in commentry box.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2012, 1:18 GMT

    998 dismissals ........ felled at the final hurdle

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 21:24 GMT

    This has to be one of the saddest and most unfortunate incidents to have happened --- wishing Mark Boucher the speediest and healthiest of recoveries and may God be with him and his family in these tough times

  • Ammar on July 11, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    what a tragic end, I pray for his complete recovery (an advise for all the keepers standing up "always wear a helmet"

  • Ravi on July 11, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    Very unfortunate incident. Only a month ago one of our club's finest batsman was hot right on the eyeball and suffered fractures to the facial bone surrounding the eye. The eyeball was not ruptured and he has made good recovery since then. I think bail is a smaller and sharper object and hence this unfortunate incident. One common feature of both the incidents: the players were not wearing helmets. I am sure a helmet would have saved in both the cases. It is time that helmet is made mandatory for batsmen and close in fielders...certainly the wicket keeper... irrespective of the bowling type.... Wish Boucher a speedy and full recovery.

  • Haresh on July 11, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    This is very sad to end a Cricketing career, Boucher you are not alone I pray that God's healing power shall prevail on you.

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