Mark Boucher, born on December 3, 1976, is Test cricket’s most prolific gloveman with 546 dismissals. In fact, if one takes into account his One-Day International (ODI) and T20 International record, he has a total of 999 dismissals as a wicketkeeper. Appearing in 147 Tests, 295 ODIs and 25 T20Is, Boucher became one of the important members of the South African team. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks nine little known facts about Boucher.

 

1. Growing up in East London

Boucher hails from East London, Border. He was born to Verdon and Heather Boucher and grew up with two sisters Mandy and Che’.

 

2. All-round sportsman

At a young age, Boucher played many sports and excelled in his trade. In a chat with Telegraph, he said, “I represented Border schools at cricket, squash, swimming, cross-country, tennis and rugby. I then went on to play for South African Schools at cricket and squash.” While Boucher continued to play squash till his early 20s, he took cricket very seriously when he was called up for the South Africa under-19s to tour England in the year 1995.

 

3. Mentored by Richard Pybus

Boucher was mentored by renowned coach Richard Pybus, who went on to work with Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies. In a chat with Wisden, Pybus said that he discovered Boucher’s talent during a wicketkeeping camp and was very impressed by his natural athleticism.

 

4. Opening batsman on under-19 international debut

Boucher made his debut for South Africa under-19 against England under-19 in 1995. Interestingly, he was selected as an opening batsman for that series. Ahmed Omar was the wicketkeeper for South Africa under-19s.

 

5. Only one wicket in major cricket

Boucher has only bowled once in major cricket, which was in a Test match against West Indies in St John’s in 2005. He picked up the wicket of centurion Dwayne Bravo with his eighth ball, which ended the West Indies innings. If one takes this wicket into account and places it alongside his 999 dismissals with the gloves, Boucher would have accounted for 1,000 victims in international cricket.

 

6. One international as a non-wicketkeeper

In 2010, South Africa were trying to push AB de Villiers as a wicketkeeper, which would have allowed South Africa to play the extra bowler or an all-rounder. Boucher was thus benched during ODIs in West Indies, but was called up for the fifth and final game. However, he was not handed the gloves and was on the field, effective one brilliant catch at cover. This remains Boucher’s only international game without the gloves.

 

7. From commentary box to the dugout

During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2011, Boucher was not initially picked by any side. As a result, he spent some time in the commentary box. But, with Brad Haddin injuring himself, Kolkata Knight Riders opted for Boucher’s services and he was soon in the middle.

 

8. Campaign against Rhino poaching

Post retirement, Boucher has supported a campaign against poaching of Rhinos. He has joined hands with Castle Lager and has created a campaign with the name Boucher Legacy, Rhino in Safe Hands.

 

9. Love for golf

Being a versatile sportsman, Boucher tried his hand at golf later in life and has taken a liking for it. In fact, he was concerned about his golfing future when he was hurt by the bail on the tour of England, which ended his career. Speaking to The Oprah Magazine, he said, “That was scary for me: I didn’t know if I’d be able to drive again, or play golf, for example — things I was looking forward to doing after retiring from cricket.”

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)