Boucher announces retirement from international cricket after eye surgery

Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher is struck in the eye by a flying bail during South Africa's game with Somerset

Story highlights

  • South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher retires from international cricket
  • Boucher's left eye lacerated by a bail during a tour match against Somerset
  • The 35-year-old underwent emergency surgery after the incident at Taunton
  • Boucher played 147 Test matches for South Africa during a 14-year career

South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has announced his retirement from international cricket after a freak accident during a tour match forced him to undergo surgery on a lacerated eye.

Boucher was taken to hospital for an operation after spinner Imran Tahir's dismissal of Somerset's Gemaal Hussain caused a bail to flick up into his eye when he was standing up to the wicket.

The 35-year-old, who has played in 147 Test matches for his country, will return to South Africa for further treatment as soon as he is able to travel.

Boucher spoke of an "uncertain recovery" with the wicketkeeper understood to be battling to save the sight in his left eye.

South African captain Graeme Smith confirmed Boucher's retirement from the international team and read out a statement made by the wicketkeeper to reporters at Somerset's ground in Taunton.

"It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement," it read. "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."

Boucher has been a mainstay of the South African over the past ten years and will remain locked on 999 international dismissals, including a record 555 in Test matches.

He made a total of 467 appearances for his country during his 14-year international career. Smith also read out a statement from the team paying tribute to their departing colleague.

"Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances.

"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."

Boucher's role as wicketkeeper will now be fulfilled by AB De Villiers, the team announced. The first Test between England and South Africa starts at The Oval in London on July 19.