London: Veteran South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher today announced his retirement from international cricket after undergoing a serious three-hour eye surgery, admitting that an "uncertain recovery" prompted him to take the decision.
The 35-year-old Boucher sustained a serious eye injury yesterday when a googly from Imran Tahir cleaned up Somerset batsman Gemaal Hussain but the dislodged bail hit the glovesman on the eye. He left the ground bleeding profusely.
One of the finest wicketkeeper-batsman of his time, Boucher played 147 Test matches with a world record of 555 dismissals which include 532 catches and 23 stumpings. He scored 5515 runs with five centuries and 35 half centuries at an average of 30.30.
He also played 295 ODIs in which he effected 425 dismissals with 403 catches. He scored 4686 runs with a century and 26 half centuries.
In a statement read out by captain Graeme Smith, Boucher said: "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.
"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," Boucher said in the statement.
"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."
Smith also spoke on behalf of the team: "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", he was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.
"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."
According to Proteas cricket manager, the extent of the eye injury is severe.
"The extent of the eye injury can be described as severe. The eyeball (globe of the eye) was repaired during the operation," Mohammed Moosajee, the South Africa manager, told ESPNcricinfo.
"The long-term prognosis at this stage remains unknown. He will return home as soon as able to travel and the selectors will announce a replacement shortly."
The South Africa selectors will name a replacement for Boucher on Wednesday. Thami Tsolekile, earmarked as the successor to Boucher and nationally contracted from April 1, is the likeliest candidate to be called up.