London: South Africa’s Mark Boucher retired from international cricket with immediate effect on Tuesday after being struck in the eye a day earlier. The prolific wicket-keeper had a surgery on his eye in England and has flown back home.
Boucher, who has played in 147 Tests and 295 ODIs, was struck by a bail during his team’s tour opener against English county Somerset. “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,” a statement on his behalf said. The third Test of the series – at Lords – would have been the 150th appearance for the player who will retire with 999 international dismissals. His 555 dismissals in Tests is a record.
Team manager Mohammed Moosajee had earlier said that the extent of Boucher’s injury was severe and that it was “difficult to determine the extent of the long-term damage.”
The 35-year-old player has been a solid performer for the Proteas and his brilliant skills behind the stumps was matched only by his ability with the bat.
Boucher made his international Test debut against Pakistan in 1997 and has since been a permanent part of the national side.
On Tuesday, Boucher in his statement issued his thanks for the wishes. “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.”
South African Test skipper Graeme Smith who read out Boucher’s statement, expressed his sadness at the announcement and called the player ‘a patriotic South African and a fighter.’
“Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances. For the 14years of your International career, you have been a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything,” he said in a personal message.