London: South Africa's Mark Boucher retired from international cricket with immediate effect on Tuesday after being struck in the eye a day earlier. The prolific wicket-keeper had a surgery on his eye in England and has flown back home.
Boucher, who has played in 147 Tests and 295 ODIs, was struck by a bail during his team's tour opener against English county Somerset. "It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement. Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play International cricket again," a statement on his behalf said. The third Test of the series - at Lords - would have been the 150th appearance for the player who will retire with 999 international dismissals. His 555 dismissals in Tests is a record.
Team manager Mohammed Moosajee had earlier said that the extent of Boucher's injury was severe and that it was "difficult to determine the extent of the long-term damage." ( Related read: Cricket South Africa to honour Boucher)
The 35-year-old player has been a solid performer for the Proteas and his brilliant skills behind the stumps was matched only by his ability with the bat. ( Also read: Mickey Arthur salutes Boucher)
Boucher made his international Test debut against Pakistan in 1997 and has since been a permanent part of the national side.
On Tuesday, Boucher in his statement issued his thanks for the wishes. "I am deeply touched by all the well wishes. I wish the team well in the UK, as I head home and onto a road of uncertain recovery."
South African Test skipper Graeme Smith who read out Boucher's statement, expressed his sadness at the announcement and called the player 'a patriotic South African and a fighter.'
"Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances. For the 14years of your International career, you have been a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything," he said in a personal message.