Thanks for the memories, Bouch
by Jason Humphries, MWP
Mark Boucher’s hopes of ending his career in a manner
of his status, with a test series win in England, were ended in the
cruellest manner possible as a freak injury forced the wicketkeeper
into premature retirement. It is only now that he is gone that his true
value to the Proteas may be fully understood.
Boucher had stated his intention to retire after South
Africa’s three-test tour of England but the freak accident, which saw him hit in
the eye by an errant bail leading to a lacerated eyeball, meant that
his retirement date was taken out of his hands.
It was not the way Boucher wanted things to end but sport can be a
cruel mistress and as Lance Klusener, one of Boucher’s former South
Africa team-mates, noted after the news of Boucher’s retirement:
“That’s sport, sometimes you can’t go out on your own terms.”
Boucher completed a world-record 555 dismissals in 147 tests with 5515
runs at an average of 30.30 while he ended his career with 998
dismissals behind the stumps in international cricket with one outfield
catch and one test wicket, against the West Indies in 2005, giving him
a total of 1 000 dismissals in all international cricket.
His wicketkeeping records are unlikely to be broken as his
international career, which began with his first test against Pakistan
in 1997, spanned almost 15 years in a remarkable display of longevity.
But it is his absence in the changeroom and as a member of the Proteas’
leadership group were his absence will be felt most keenly.
A number of his former and current team-mates will tell you that
Boucher was the heartbeat of the team. If the team had had a bad day,
or were faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, it would
invariably be Boucher who would issue the rallying cry.
He also possessed an astute cricket brain and would be one of the first
men that the various captains that he played for would turn to for
advice. After all, Boucher had the best view in the house, crouched
behind the stumps.
The pugnacious Boucher enjoyed many career highlights including hitting
the winning runs in the ‘438’ game as he ended unbeaten on 50 in that
He also shared in a series-winning partnership of 112 with Graeme Smith
in 2008 at Edgbaston in a remarkable second innings run-chase. Smith
gathered most of the plaudits for his 154 not out but Boucher’s
unbeaten 45 was equally as crucial as the Proteas chased down 281 runs
Boucher still holds the world-record, along with Pat Symcox, for the
best ninth-wicket stand in test match history, 195 against Pakistan in
Johannesburg during the 1997/98 season, while his 44-ball ODI century
against Zimbabwe is a South African record.
The 35-year-old Boucher also holds a number of South Africa test
‘keeping records. He has taken six catches in an innings three times,
the only man to do so, while he, along with Dave Richardson, are the
only South Africans to have competed nine dismissals in a test match.
Boucher was someone who stood up for what he believed in and,
occasionally, that would rub administrators and fans up the wrong way,
but there can be no doubting his commitment to the game.
He never rested on his laurels and was always prepared to put
in the hard yards. During last season’s home series against Sri Lanka
he had come in for some criticism for his keeping so he did something
Before the Boxing Day test in Durban Boucher arranged for his mentor
Ray Jennings to spend a few days with him to work on his keeping
Boucher arrived for training before his team-mates and spent a good few
hours working with Jennings in an effort to correct a few technical
It says something about Boucher’s character that, despite playing over
100 tests, he was not too proud to admit that he needed help and was
humble enough take advice.
Mark Verdon Boucher is gone from the South Africa team now but he will
never be forgotten.
MARK BOUCHER's 1000 DISMISSALS
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Mark Boucher started his test career in Sheikhupura on October
17, 1997, in the second of a three-test series in Pakistan.
Three days of the match were washed out and the South Africans fielded
for only 17 overs. Boucher scored six runs in South Africa's only
He had better fortune in his first ODI, against New Zealand in Perth.
He took two catches but did not impress with the bat.
In 1998 Boucher scored his maiden test half-century, against Pakistan
in Durban. In his next test, along with making a fifty, he also
equalled Dave Richardson’s SA record of nine dismissals in a test –
eight catches & one stumping. Six of those dismissals came in
the first innings, which ranked second-highest on the all-time list of
dimsissals in an innings. In that series, he set a new South African
wicket-keeping record for a three-test series, with 18 dismissals.
On SA’s tour to England in 1998, Boucher became a fixture in the SA
line-up with 26 dismissals. At the time, it was the fourth-highest in
the all-time list for dismissals in a series.
In 1999, Boucher got his first test century, after 16 matches, against
the West Indies at Centurion, which he followed up with two more
centuries that year.
Many more records were to come for the SA keeper. In 2000, he took five
catches in an ODI against England in Johannesburg to equal the record
for most catches by a keeper in an ODI innings, something he repeated
twice that year.
That same year, Boucher passed 1000 runs in tests during his
half-century in the second Sri Lanka test in Kandy. He rounded off his
performance with a catch to dismiss Muttiah Muralidaran, winning the
match for SA by only seven runs, and levelling the series.
In his 38th test, Boucher passed Dave Richardson's tally of 153
dismissals to become SA's most successful test wicketkeeper.
In 2002 Boucher captained South Africa in four tests while Shaun
Pollock was injured. SA suffered a series defeat to Australia at home,
but he lead the Proteas to an innings victory over Bangladesh in
October, in which he also took his 200th catch.
Later in 2002, Boucher reached 166 dismissals in ODIs – the most by a
South African wicketkeeper – when he caught Damien Martyn.
The World Cup in SA in 2003 proved to be a disappointment when, in the
match against Sri Lanka, his flick to midwicket resulted in a dot ball,
which put the two teams on the same score when rain stopped the match,
and the hosts were knocked out of the tournament.
In 2004, Boucher was dropped from the SA squad for the tour to India
(replaced by Thami Tsolekile) but he returned in the home series
against England in 2005.
At the end of that year, Boucher became only the second person to
complete 300 dismissals in ODIs, behind Adam Gilchrist.
The innings he will probably be remembered for the most, came on 12
March 2006, as he scored an unbeaten half-century (including the
winning runs) to help SA reach 438 for nine to beat Australia in the
series decider in Johannesburg.
In 2007, Boucher became the world record-holder for the most test
catches when he got rid of Faisal Iqbal to pass Ian Healy’s 366-catch
mark. He also played in his 100th test match – one of only four Proteas
at the time.
More records were to fall as in February, 2007, Boucher equalled the
world record of six ODI dismissals in an innings.
IN CONVERSATION: MARK BOUCHER
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Later in 2007, Boucher became the most successful test wicket-keeper
when he surpassed Ian Healy’s total test dismissals count of 395.
Boucher played his first IPL season in 2008 where he emerged as
Bangalore’s second-highest run-getter, playing 10 games for 225 runs at
32.14. In the 2009 edition, he featured in 12 games, averaging 30 for
his 150 runs.
At the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2007, in his 275th ODI, Boucher became
only the second wicketkeeper (after Adam Gilchrist) with 400 ODI
On November 9, 2011, Boucher pouched Phil Hughes to become the first
wicketkeeper to take 500 catches in test cricket, 121 ahead of his
nearest rival, Gilchrist.
And on July 10 2012, Boucher
announced his retirement from international cricket
after he suffered a freak eye injury in the first warm-up game (against
Somerset) on the Proteas’ tour to England, when a bail
hit him in the left eye, ending his long and
distinguished playing career.
MARK BOUCHER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
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from Pat Symcox & Lance Klusener
from Mickey Arthur
from Cricket South Africa
South Africa, Africa XI, Border, Cape Cobras, ICC World XI,
Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Warriors
CAREER STATISTICS (as at July 10,
Pakistan v South Africa at Sheikhupura, Oct 17-21, 1997 scorecard
New Zealand v South Africa at Wellington, Mar 23-27, 2012 scorecard
New Zealand v South Africa at Perth, Jan 16, 1998 scorecard
South Africa v Australia at Durban, Oct 28, 2011 scorecard
South Africa v New Zealand at Johannesburg, Oct 21, 2005 scorecard
Pakistan v South Africa at Gros Islet, May 10, 2010 scorecard