An eye injury which has ruled Mark Boucher out of South Africa’s tour of England has overshadowed preparations for the Proteas’ tour match at Taunton. By ANT SIMS.
Mark Boucher is returning home and is out of South Africa’s tour of England with a serious eye injury, sustained during the team’s first tour match against Somerset at Taunton.
The wicketkeeper was hit in the eye by a bail which ricocheted off the stumps after a googly from Imran Tahir, who clean bowled Gemail Hussain. Boucher was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery in order to repair a laceration on the white of his eye.
He is returning home and will play no part in South Africa's tour of England, but the damage done will only be known at a later stage. Dr Mohammed Mossajee, South African team manager, said that the extent of the damage would only be evident once the bleeding and inflammation had gone down after surgery, something which can take up to 72 hours.
There is a concern that Boucher might have damage to his vision, but this will depend on whether the retina was damaged, something that will only be established once the swelling and bleeding subsides.
“Right now, we’re trying to focus on Mark the patient, not whether Mark the player will partake in this tour or not. We first want to make sure that he is okay," said Mossajee.
He will undergo a further assessment later today, but the wicketkeeper could be ruled out of action for up to six weeks, meaning he will play no part in South Africa’s Test series against England.
It’s a tragic start to the tour for Boucher, who was set to retire after the series. With less than ten days to go before the first Test starts, South Africa now faces a selection conundrum of who should take guard behind the stumps at The Oval.
Thami Tsolekile has been tipped to take over the gloves from Boucher once he retires, but he is not currently on tour with the team and has been playing with the South African A side – where he has struggled with the bat, but excelled with the gloves.
Tsolekile was given a central contract earlier this year and has previously played three Tests for South Africa in 2004, although he struggled with the bat. Since then, the Lions player has worked hard on his technique and has previously said that he is feeling far more confident than he was when he last donned the Test whites. He has put in some decent First Class performances with the Lions franchise. He is widely considered to be the best gloveman in the country and England conditions can be testing, even for the most experienced keeper. Another potential option is to use AB de Villiers behind the stumps and plug the hole left by Boucher with an extra batsman, a move which could see JP Duminy drafted into the side.
It’s a tough call for selectors who are already scratching their heads over a potential replacement for Marchant de Lange, who is struggling with a backstrain. De Lange picked up the niggle during South Africa’s short stint in Zimbabwe in June and could very well become the second casualty of the tour. Opening batsman Alviro Petersen also sat out of the tour match after he sprained a joint in his foot during training on the weekend.
The match against Somerset was South Africa's first time out in Test whites since their tour to New Zealand in April this year, and the rustiness was evident. Despite making early inroads to the Somerset batting line-up, James Hildreth and Peter Trego each notched up 100 as the South African bowlers were made to play fetch all over the park. Morne Morkel in particular struggled, finishing with figures of 14-1-90-0 in the first innings.
Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph both failed with the bat at the top of the order, contributing 10 and five respectively, but Hashim Amla (34*) and Jacques Kallis (45*) knuckled down to hold steady the ship and steer South Africa to 96-2 at the close of play on day one. DM
Photo: South Africa's Mark Boucher looks down as he leaves the ground after being bowled out by New Zealand's Mark Gillespie on day two of the second international cricket test match in Hamilton March 16, 2012. REUTERS/Nigel Marple