Tributes pour in for Boucher
Lance Klusener and Pat Symcox paid tribute to Mark Boucher on Tuesday after the South Africa wicketkeeper announced his retirement from international cricket because of a serious eye-injury.
Klusener and Symcox both played in Boucher’s debut test, against Pakistan in Sheikhupura in 1997, and they were both effusive in their praise for their former team-mate who went on to complete a world-record 555 test dismissals behind the stumps and 999 dismissals in all international cricket as a wicketkeeper.
“As a player he was a man for the trenches,” Symcox told SuperSport.com.
“He had a way about him that he could dig deep down and play the percentages. It is rare to find that in a player and Boucher had that ability. As a person he always stood-up for what he believed in but he was also a great team man,” he added.
Klusener said that it was almost impossible to describe how much Boucher meant on and off the field to the Proteas.
“He’s solid,” said Klusener of Boucher.
“He was the bulldog of the team and would really gee up the guys in the changeroom to say ‘let’s go out and get the job done’. But he is really going to be missed not only for what he did on the field but what he contributed off of it.”
Klusener also paid tribute to Boucher’s longevity in a career that spanned 147 tests, 295 one-day internationals (ODIs) and 25 Twenty20 internationals.
“He started out when Dave Richardson retired and he has just gone on and on and he has been an outstanding servant for the game in South Africa. It is very sad that his career has ended like it has but I suppose that is sport, sometimes you can’t go out on your own terms,” said Klusener.
The 35-year-old Boucher had already stated his intention to retire from international cricket after the Proteas’ current tour of England.
But instead of ending his career in his 150th test, which would have been played at the home of cricket at Lord’s in London, his career has been cut short by a freak accident after being hit in the eye by a bail.
Symcox, who shared in a world record 195-run ninth-wicket partnership with Boucher against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 1998, said that he remembered that partnership as if it was yesterday and that few people realised how hard Boucher worked at his game.
“I remember the day (against Pakistan) clearly with Shoaib Akthar and Waqar Younis bowling with real pace and Mark just hung in there and did his job.
“He set very high standards with his wicketkeeping and he never rested on the fact that he was a natural keeper. He had a tremendous work ethic throughout his career,” Symcox explained.
Boucher scored 5515 test runs at an average of 30.30 with five centuries and 4686 runs at an average of 28.57 in ODIs but his true value to the Proteas may only be fully understood now that he will no longer be playing for his country.