Home > Features > Moments in history >

Mark Boucher: A fighter who served his country with pride

Mark Boucher a fighter who served his country with pride

Mark Boucher In 15 years, Boucher has played 147 Tests, 295 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 25 T20 internationals 467 games in all and ended up with 999 dismissals © Getty Images

Mark Boucher, born December 3, 1976, symbolised grit and never-say-die attitude in a long international career. In this day and age where the international calendar is packed with cricketing assignments, Boucher tirelessly served his country for 15 years for a job that demands supreme fitness. A freakish eye injury brought a halt to his fabulous career in July this year.

Boucher epitomised a winner’s attitude. He never backed away from a fight and faced adversity with remarkable fight – mindset that helped him surmount odds and limitations to become the most successful stumper in the history of the game.

Boucher had a bit of a tough time in his early days, but came a long way since then. South Africa always had a fantastic pace attack, and to keep wickets to them for 15 years is a demanding job. One that Boucher has done without much problems.

The South Africans have fielded pacemen such as Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to name a few. Always in the firing line, Boucher did a remarkable job in handling such a quality attack and adding to their wickets tally. With all the hard yards behind him, he would often pull off stunners – which converted half chances to help the fiery attack celebrate its hard work.

In 15 years, Boucher has played 147 Tests, 295 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 25 T20 internationals – 467 games in all. Being a ‘keeper, the frequent sit-ups, crouches, changing ends, collecting deliveries etc. would have been extremely strenuous. The magnitude of difficulty magnifies when one considers the quality of the attack he has kept to. Through all that he has stacked 999 international victims behind the stumps (it goes up to 1000 if one counts his only Test wicket). All this reflects a phenomenal fitness level and an unshakable mind.

In this modern era, wicket-keeper’s are expected to contribute with the bat as that adds more depth to a side. While Boucher did a fantastic lower down the order – scripting knocks that helped South Africa finish games or steered the ship through troubled waters, the other more spectacular keeper batsmen often stole his thunder. Throughout his career, Boucher competed with the great Australian Adam Gilchrist. The race was almost neck and neck in Test cricket (for dismissals), but the ultimate record rests with Boucher.

Undoubtedly Gilchrist was an infinitely superior batsman, a fact established by his 17 Tests hundreds compared to Boucher’s five. However, in ODIs, Gilchrist opened the batting even as Boucher’s role was limited to the lower order. On the keeping front, Gilchrist stood up to a bowler of the calibre of Shane Warne in a dominant Aussie attack. For a major part of his career, Boucher had to contend with seamers as no spinner established himself in the South African squad in the long run.

Comparisons are often unfair and many a captain would vouch for the fact that a player like Boucher is invaluable in the set-up. A player like him has the ability to motivate the others with his performance and positive body-language. One needs that dependable figure lower down the order with the bat and a chirpy stumper to boost the morale of the side. His standing in the South African dressing room was evident when he had to call it a day in unfortunate circumstances.

Mark Boucher a fighter who served his country with pride

Mark Boucher walks off the field after being struck in the face by a bail during a friendly match between Somerset and South Africa on July 9, 2012 in Taunton. The injury, unfortunately, ended his career © Getty Images

On the verge of history, fate played a cruel move when Boucher injured his eye in a tour game of the England sojourn in July this year. It was a freakish incident as the ball clipped the bail – which flew on to his eye – damaging it. Boucher had announced that the three Tests against England would have been his last. He had the chance of completing 150 Tests, but was left an agonising three short. That horrific injury ended a fantastic career and robbed him of putting the cherry on top of the cake.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014 (16:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 12, 2014  at Sharjah

New Zealand won by 4 wkts

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Steven Smith appointed Australia captain

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2

Cheteshwar Pujara’s dismissal: How can cricket eliminate the howler?

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Maiden wickets, an elusive ton, and other highlights from Day 1

Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane guide India to 311/4 against Australia on Day 1 of 1st Test at Brisbane

Australia India Interviews Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin South Africa

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: Shane Warne slams Mitchell Starc for nonchalant approach

India vs Australia 2014-15: MS Dhoni believes India would perform better on Australia’s fast tracks during Tests

Live Streaming: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2

Live Scorecard: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2

Live Cricket Score: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane Day 2

Murali Vijay continues to make impressive progress against Australia

Cheteshwar Pujara’s dismissal: How can cricket eliminate the howler?

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Maiden wickets, an elusive ton, and other highlights from Day 1

Chamundeswaranath caught Balasubramaniam bowled Ananthapadmanabhan

Sri Lanka vs England, 7th ODI at Colombo: Tillakaratne Dilshan’s all-round performance and other highlights

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here