London: South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher’s retirement from international cricket following freak eye injury, has given England edge over the Proteas ahead of their three match Test series, according to former skipper Nasser Hussain.
South Africa`s team management has decided that AB de Villiers will man the stumps in the first Test against England at The Oval.
Hussain wrote in his Daily Mail column: “My abiding memory of Mark Boucher will be of the incredible character he brought to the South Africa side for the best part of a decade and a half.”
“He was the kind of bloke you hated playing against because he could be a right pain in the backside, chirping away behind the stumps and always in your face. But that also made him exactly the sort of player you’d want in your own side: he was feisty, up for it and extremely proud. He hated losing.”
He said Boucher was a genuine all-rounder in the mould of a Matt Prior or an Adam Gilchrist — not quite as destructive with the bat, perhaps, but you always knew that, if you had South Africa 150 for five, you still had to get past Boucher.
“However, the best thing I can say about him is that he’s the kind of guy whose value you really appreciate only once he’s gone. People have forgotten the role he’s played in keeping South African heads up over the years, in balancing the side and in scoring crucial runs in tight games.
“Along with Smith and Kallis, he’s basically run that team for the last 15 years. I think South Africa are really going to miss him in the weeks ahead — to the extent that I now make England marginal favourites to win the three-Test series and stay on top of the world rankings,” Hussain said.
Boucher made his debut for the Proteas as a 20-year-old against Pakistan in Sheikhpura in October 1997.
Since then, he has notched up a number of world records, including most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in Tests with 555. He also stands on 999 international dismissals in all formats of the game.