South Africa news August 8, 2012

Boucher 'unlikely' to play cricket in future


Mark Boucher, former South Africa wicketkeeper, has said that it is "unlikely" he will play professional cricket in the near future as the healing process to his left eye continues. Boucher's eyeball was lacerated last month on the first day of South Africa's tour to England, when a bail ricocheted off the stumps and hit him during the tour match against Somerset in Taunton.

He was forced to move his intended retirement, which he had planned after the Lord's Test, forward and returned home to South Africa to begin treatment. Boucher underwent one operation in England followed up by five more procedures in Cape Town.

Although it was initially reported that he could pick up movement and detect light with the injured eye and he was hopeful of making a return at franchise or amateur level, Boucher's cricket playing days seem over, for the foreseeable future at least.

"I have lost the lens, iris and pupil in my left eye. There was severe damage to my retina. I have had two major operations and four blood draining operations in the past three weeks and physically, at times, I have been in a lot of pain," Boucher said at his first press conference since the incident, at Newlands, where he also revealed how much his life had changed in recent weeks.

"It does get uncomfortable at times and being a sportsman, I want to be active and outdoors but, without a pupil, I find any amount of sunlight very harsh and have thus been restricted to the confines of my home. It is unlikely that I will play any professional cricket again in the near future, which is very unfortunate as I was looking forward to contributing as a player for the Cobras. The risk of additional damage to my left eye or even damage to the other eye, doesn't warrant it."

Having already considered the end of his career before the tour to England, Boucher had future projects in the works some of which have now been fast-forwarded. He has invested in his "passion for wildlife" with South African Breweries and launched the SAB Boucher Non-Profit Company, which aims to help fund the fight against rhino poaching in Africa.

Boucher has been vocal in his support for saving the rhino, which has come under severe threat in recent years. More than 900 rhinos have been killed across Africa in the last three years and the species is facing extinction in some areas. Boucher and team-mates past and present, such as Paul Harris, Dale Steyn and Justin Kemp, took part in a conservation event at the end of June to raise awareness for the rhino and Boucher's involvement will continue through his new foundation.

He has also started a wine-label with long-time friend Jacques Kallis. The wine, called the Innings, went on shelves in South African stores last weekend and reported good sales. Kallis also had the label stuck on his bat and pointed to it in celebration, along with gesturing to his eye, after his century at the Oval.

Boucher's role in the Test XI has been taken up by AB de Villiers in the interim which has allowed South Africa to play the extra batsmen in JP Duminy. Wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile is expected to eventually take over as Boucher's permanent replacement.

Boucher has been monitoring the on-going series between South Africa and England and tweeting his thoughts. He has also been in contact with the squad and captain Graeme Smith hinted that they would seek Boucher's advice on occasions, given the experience he gained over the years and the fighting way he approached the game.

That fight lives on in Boucher and his parting words to the media were ones of hope, despite his current circumstances.

"I don't want people to feel sorry for me. Injuries happen and this could have happened earlier on in my career. I am incredibly grateful for the length of career that I have had and the amazing things I have experienced and people I have met during that time. This is just another challenge in my life and something that I will be working to overcome."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Riya on August 11, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    It'll take a long time for such large shoes to be filled... my wishes are also with Thami Tsolekile! He'll be under pressure for sure! God bless...

  • John on August 10, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Why would AB only be a temporary wicket keeper? If they think the side is stronger with him doing the job surely he should keep it. If, on the other hand, Tsolekile is the better bet, why isn't he playing now?

  • Ahsan on August 10, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    @Josh Thomson: yes ICC can still make the game more safe by implicating the use of plastic bails, or rubber bails, some material which won't have that hard an impact, and some other things , if they sit and think they can come up with more solutions.

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Sad to see such a great player end his innings like this..

  • Ajay on August 10, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    It is a bit sad that his career has had to end in this manner, but coming generations should learn the value of hard-work, professionalism and work-horse like attitude that Mark Boucher brought to his trade. I really respect the professionalism of the entire South African team. They have no pre-series dramas, no prima-donnas or any other afflictions that ail other teams. They come to work, give their best - succeed most of the times but also fail occasionally. For someone smart enough, at the end of the day - this team offers a chance to learn valuable life lessons and Mark Boucher did ind eed epitomize those values. His contributions to the cricketing world would and should always be remembered.

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    Bouchie is a real warrior and will overcome this challenge too. Thanks, Best of Luck and God bless!

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    Respect for this true Champion of the cricketing world.

  • Vincent on August 9, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    Hi Mark...Yep a long career! Keep going man! Cheers!

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2012, 19:48 GMT

    A wonderful cricketer and an even more wonderful human... i salute you mr. mark boucher... may you recover soon...

  • Muhammad on August 9, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    What a value you have added to the great game of cricket through your wonderful career

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