Latif rates Boucher among top five wicketkeepers in history

Karachi: Shocked by the news of Mark Boucher’s retirement following a freak eye accident, former Pakistani wicketkeeper Rashid Latif rated the South African among the top five glovesmen in cricket history.

Fate dealt a cruel blow to Boucher at Taunton when he was struck in the left eye by a bail as he stood up to to spinner Imran Tahir. This freak accident, which now threatens vision in his affected eye, resulted in his decision to retire from all forms of cricket.

“Boucher has taken the right decision at the right time. He was an excellent wicket-keeper batsman – Infact, I would rate him amongst the top five wicketkeepers in the history of cricket,” Latif said.

“He was a great asset for South Africa and it will be difficult to find his replacement. Although his decision to retire has been driven by the seriousness of the injury, it is also true that great players also know when its time to retire and move on. Having said that, this is a big decision for Boucher and will have a great impact on the fortunes of the South African team,” quoted him, as saying.

As the calls to make helmets compulsory for all levels of cricketers continue to gather voice amongst fans and observers alike, Latif is not convinced that this is the right way forward as personal preferences need to be taken into account citing his own example.

“In England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand it’s up to individual players to decide whether they want to wear a helmet or not – there is no restriction at the senior level. However, for juniors, it is compulsory to wear protective gear when keeping wickets,” he said.

“Personally speaking, I don’t ever recall wearing a helmet while keeping as I felt very uncomfortable. I do not like the idea of making it compulsory – it should be left to individual preferences to use if they feel that they are in danger of getting hurt by the ball. The ICC should not make this a rule as it will affect the performance of some established wicket-keepers in big matches – I don’t think that this is a good idea,” Latif added.

Regarded as one of Pakistan’s premier wicket-keeper batsmen of his time, Latif had 130 dismissals (119 catches 11 stumpings) in 37 Tests and 220 dismissals (182 catches 38 stumpings) in 166 ODIs.