South Africa in England 2012 July 10, 2012

Boucher a huge loss for SA - Arthur


Mark Boucher's steely attitude and sprightly wicketkeeping will be a significant loss for South Africa on their tour of England, the Australia coach Mickey Arthur has said. A close friend of Boucher from their days together with Cape Cobras and the South Africa side, Arthur was among the first of cricket's luminaries to extend a tribute to Boucher after his international retirement was forced by a horrendous eye injury.

Arthur learned of Boucher's retirement while preparing the Australian ODI team for the final match of their series against England at Old Trafford, and said the South African tour party had the task ahead of them to get over the departure of their wicketkeeper in such hurried and unhappy circumstances.

"They do need to get over it, I'm sure they will. He's going to be missed hugely though," Arthur told the BBC. "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.

"I was really disappointed for him, I think he finished on 999 dismissals and just short of 150 Test matches. I know he wanted to come here because he wanted it to be his real swansong as a Test series, so really disappointing it end this way for Mark.

"I think he's right up there. You have a look at his batting and wicketkeeping stats and they're phenomenal."

Boucher and Arthur first grew close when the wicketkeeper was dropped from the South African team, spending plenty of time together at the Eastern Cape provincial side and charting Boucher's return to his international place.

"I have lots of memories as his coach, too many memories," Arthur said. "I was really close to Mark, I had a special affinity for him, I knew his family very well, for a time we lived in the same city, and I coached him at state level. I coached him for the period he was out of the South African side, when he got dropped for the first time and then got back into the team.

"So 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."

They were to become close again when Arthur was appointed South Africa coach, and among Arthur's happiest recollections of Boucher was his determination to ensure South Africa chased down a fourth innings target at Edgbaston in 2008 to secure a series win over England.

"I remember the series we 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," Arthur said. "In his fighting way I remember him pointing the bat at Alastair Cook in one instance.

"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; a massive amount of fighting spirit."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • R on July 11, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    It is indeed sad to hear about Bouch's injury. Such freak injuries do happen & sadden all of us. One that readily comes to mind is Nari Contractor's head injury on the Windies tour before the 1st Test when a short one just did not rise enough & smacked Nari on the head as he tried to duck under. One just hopes that the Saffers do not lose focus the way Indians did after that injury, losing all the tests in the process. Go Saffers, do it for Bouch. For, he would like nothing more than a series victory from you guys. Mark, you have epitomized grit & determination. Hope to see the same as you fight this. All the best & Godspend.

  • werner on July 11, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Arthur and Boucher worked together at the Warriors (from Port Elizabeth). Arthur never coached at the Cobras. Funny how many people that called for his exclusion now sing his praises - although Mickey was never one of those....

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Will his achievement be considered as gud as Bradman's 99.9 avg? May b slightly less. But i don c anyone breaking this record in near future.

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    what a say way to retire, one of the best wicket keepers for South Africa :/

  • Randy on July 11, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    that 1 wicket should count for dismissals ... unless they are only counting wicket keeping

  • Pramod on July 11, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    one of the really great wicket keepers of all time... really sad he didn't get to play in this series :( thanks for all the great memories bouchie!

  • theo on July 10, 2012, 20:24 GMT

    @Oliver & John... hahaha... great one guys, couldnt agree more about Bravo's dismissal!!!

    A fighter, is what I will always know him for... He was there till the end more often than not... Hope you recover, Legend.

  • ankush on July 10, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    Its not about 1 less dismissal...its about the well being of a true cricket hero who served his country for 15 yrs with guts and determination...praying to see u back in the best of ur state

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    John, he once took the wicket of Dwayne Bravo by bowling - Don't know if that officially makes 1,000 or not, but it ought to!

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    He's right. 999 international dismissals. Anyone want to go fiddle the scorebooks and give him that extra one?

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