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Boucher retirement "huge loss" to South Africa says Bacher

updated 3:40 PM EDT, Wed July 11, 2012
  • Former South African chief Ali Bacher pays tribute to Mark Boucher
  • Bacher says Boucher's enforced retirement will be a 'huge loss'
  • Boucher set world records for dismissals by a wicketkeeper
  • AB de Villiers set to take place behind stumps against England

(CNN) -- Record breaking wicketkeeper Mark Boucher's enforced retirement is a "huge loss" for South African cricket, its former chief Ali Bacher told CNN Wednesday.

Boucher was the victim of a freak accident while playing for the South African tourists in England against county side Somerset as splinters from a bail left him with a serious eye injury.

The 35-year-old Boucher was set to be a key figure for the Proteas in their upcoming series against Test cricket's top ranked team in England, but has been left in his own words with an "uncertain recovery " after emergency surgery on his left eye.

Bacher, who was in charge of South African cricket when Boucher first came to prominence in 1997, paid his own tribute.

"A fierce competitor, very determined, always playing to win. I would call him as a terrific pressure player," he said.

It's a huge loss for South African cricket, he's had a most distinguished career in cricket for his country
Ali Bacher

"He seemed to rise to the occasion, whenever South Africa got into trouble," Bacher added.

Boucher averaged just over 30 with the bat with five Test centuries, but his work behind the stumps set new milestones.

He has a record number of 555 dismissals in Tests and 999 in all forms of international cricket, a tantalizing one short of the thousand mark. He also played a record number of Tests at 147 for a wicketkeeper.

Many of them were during the career of former South African paceman Makhaya Ntini, the pair combining to send many batsmen back to the pavilion.

"I think special mention should be made of the role that he played in the ultimate success of Makhaya Ntini," said Bacher.

"There's no question, speaking to Makhaya on many occasions that Mark had a very profound beneficial effect on his career as a mentor, to guide him, to give him the benefit of his experience as Makhaya became an international budding star for South Africa."

Boucher had an inspirational effect on all his teammates and tributes have flooded in since his career was cut short in such unfortunate fashion.

Bacher, himself a former Test star, said it was likely AB de Villiers would take his place behind the stumps for the series against England which starts next week. Thami Tsolikile, 31, has also been drafted into the squad as a replacement.

But Bacher said Boucher would be tough to replace in the short term.

"It's a huge loss for South African cricket, he's had a most distinguished career in cricket for his country and he will certainly go down as one of our greatest ever cricketers."

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