Cricket South Africa (CSA) acting CEO Jacques Faul on Wednesday led the national body’s tributes to Proteas’ veteran Mark Boucher who has announced his retirement from international cricket.
Boucher’s retirement follows a serious eye injury he suffered during the opening day of the UK tour match against Somerset which will preclude him from playing international cricket again.
He retires as statistically the most successful wicketkeeper of all time with 999 dismissals (one of them as a fielder) in all international formats of the game, including a world record 555 dismissals in Test match cricket. Both of these are figures that are not likely to be challenged for many years.
He also holds the South African record for the fastest ODI century and the world ninth wicket Test match partnership record with Pat Symcox.
“It is sad indeed that Mark Boucher’s retirement from international cricket has had to be announced under such untimely circumstances,” commented CSA Acting CEO Jacques Faul.
“We were all looking forward to the contribution he was going to make to the Proteas’ Test series in England and the challenge for the World No. 1 ranking and to salute him on achieving the landmark of 150 Test matches.
“I would like to thank him on behalf of the entire South African cricket family for the wonderful contribution he has made to the success of the Proteas over a period of 15 years. For 14 of those years he has been our first-choice wicketkeeper and has also captained the Proteas in both Test matches and the ODI format.
“The statistics of his career speak for themselves. He has set world Test match wicketkeeping records that are likely to stand for the next decade at least while his batting performances include the fastest ODI century for the Proteas, the sixth wicket Test match SA record partnership with Ashwell Prince, and the world record ninth wicket partnership with Pat Symcox.
“All this has been meticulously recorded but it does not tell us about Mark the Man.
“His terrier-like tenacity has always been the hallmark of his game and he has always been the consummate professional as well. He was always up in the forefront of team training sessions and this was once again the case during the recent training camp in Switzerland.
“But the greatest testimony to his character came during the King Commission of Enquiry in 2000 when he was the recently appointed vice-captain of the Proteas in the wake of the demise of Hansie Cronje.
“At the conclusion of his evidence to the King Commission, the Counsel for Cricket South Africa, Mr. Jeremy Gauntlett SC, stated the following and I quote directly: ‘The United Cricket Board of South Africa will always be grateful for the moral leadership its vice-captain has shown at this time’.”
South African Cricketers’ Association CEO Tony Irish commented:
“I am hardly qualified to talk about Mark Boucher as a wicketkeeper or as a team-mate. His prolific international record over 14 years speaks to that and Graeme Smith’s letter read out yesterday in Taunton has spoken for the team.
“I am, however, able to tell you how the professional cricketers collectively in South Africa see Mark Boucher.
“Yesterday we sent out a request to all of the 225 professional and semi-professional cricketers in this country. We asked them each to give a few words or phrases that best describe Mark Boucher. We made a list of the twelve most featured descriptions given by our players. These are:
“stalwart and role model / true fighting spirit / the world’s best wicketkeeper / fighter and warrior / the cricket war lord / never say die / best finisher / inspiration in the trenches / big heart cool head / the Proteas iron man / true professional and true friend / the stats don’t lie
“Yesterday and this morning we also received from the players’ associations around the world various tributes to Mark Boucher. All of them wanted to say something about this cricketer and his contribution to the game on behalf of their players. This is an indication of the mark he made with players all over the world.
“Cricket is a very subtle game. The real value and class of a player both on and off the field, is usually best understood by the players themselves, as team mates and as opponents. I want to say this to Mark: the players have spoken, you have earned their respect.
“From a players’ association point of view I want to thank Mark for his contribution to the players’ cause. From the early days of SACA, Bouch was always in the forefront of standing up for players’ rights. He never shied away from a challenge. He is a former president of our organisation who was elected by the players. He has been a true professional, on and off the field.
“We in South Africa love to see warriors and fighters in our national teams. Mark epitomised that for so many people. He has been the “bull terrier” of the Proteas (or as AB put it “our staffie”) for longer than most of us can remember.
“From the past, present and future players of South Africa, thank you Mark Boucher”.