Mark Boucher says life after eye injury has been difficult

Mark Boucher in action during South Africa’s tour game against Somerset at Lord’s. The veteran cricketer suffered the eye injury in the same game, which could possibly his last in professional cricket Getty Images

Johannesburg: Aug 9, 2012

After the loss of lens, iris and pupil in an eye injury forced him to announce his international retirement, South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Mark Boucher has ruled out returning to professional cricket again in the near future.

Speaking for the first time about the seriousness of his injury that robbed him of his 1,000th dismissals, Boucher said it was unlikely that he would even be allowed to take on another role in local cricket.

“(This) is very unfortunate as I was looking forward to contributing as a player for the (provincial side) Cobras. The risk of additional damage to my left eye or even damage to the other eye doesn’t warrant it,” said an emotional Boucher.

The former player suffered a serious eye injury in an accident on the field in England a fortnight ago, which not only forced him to announce an early retirement but also denied him the chance to take his 1,000th wicket, for which he needed just one more.

“Injuries happen and this could have happened earlier on in my career. I am incredibly grateful for the length of career that I have had and the amazing things I have experienced and people I have met during that time,” said the veteran cricketer.

“This is just another challenge in my life and something that I will be working on to overcome,” he added.

Admitting that he went through a tough time after his accident at Lords in London last month, Boucher said, “I have lost the lens, iris and pupil in my left eye. It has been a difficult time for me mentally and physically.

“It was with many emotions that I left England more than three weeks ago. Although it was common knowledge that Lord’s was going to be my last Test match, this injury brought that about earlier and I left England suddenly for an uncertain future regarding my health.

“There was severe damage to my retina. I have had two major operations and four blood-draining operations in the past three weeks and physically, at times, I have been in a lot of pain,” Boucher said.

“It does get uncomfortable at times and being a sportsman, I want to be active and outdoors but, without a pupil, I find any amount of sunlight very harsh and have thus been restricted to the confines of my home,” explained Boucher.

But the stumper added that he believed he was in good hands with his eye specialist and had now accepted that the healing process would be a long one requiring a lot of patience before he could regain some vision in his left eye.

Boucher, meanwhile, has already started other activities for his future, including a wine label together with long-time friend and teammate Jacques Kallis, as well as a role in nature conservation.

He also announced plans for his involvement in rhino poaching, which has become a major problem in South Africa due to the demand in the Far East for rhino horn and its alleged aphrodisiac properties.

“Right now, I can think of nothing better than to follow my passion, which is wildlife and I am proud to announce that together with SAB and its Castle Lager brand, with which I have had a long relationship that started when I began playing cricket for South Africa, we are in the process of setting up the SAB Boucher Non-Profit Company.

“The company aims to help in the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa and Africa. I will be integrally and actively involved in raising funds through the ‘Our Rhinos in Safe Hands’ campaign, which will be launched in the next few weeks,” Boucher said.

“In addition, Jacques Kallis and I have launched our own wine label – The Innings – and we are really pleased that it appeared in some local stores for the first time this past weekend and that sales have been great.” (PTI)