Jacques Faul, CSA's acting chief executive, has paid tribute to Mark Boucher's "wonderful contribution" to the South Africa team after the wicketkeeper's enforced retirement from international cricket. Boucher was expected to step away from South Africa duty at the end of the tour of England but sustained an eye injury during the tour match at Somerset that has hastened his exit.
He retires with a world record 998 international dismissals as a wicketkeeper, including 555 in 147 Tests, leaving South Africa facing a quandary as to his successor for the Test series against England that will decide the No. 1 ranking.
"It is sad indeed that Mark Boucher's retirement from international cricket has had to be announced under such untimely circumstances," Faul said. "We were all looking forward to the contribution he was going to make to the 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."
Faul also praised Boucher's contributions as a batsman, which included scoring the fastest ODI century by a South African, as well as the "moral leadership" he demonstrated in the wake of the fixing scandal involving Hansie Cronje that rocked the country.
"His terrier-like tenacity has always been the hallmark of his game and he has always been the consummate professional as well," Faul said. "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'."
Tony Irish, the South African Cricketers' Association chief executive, added that he had received message from players' associations around the world wanting to acknowledge Boucher's impact on the game. "This is an indication of the mark he made with players all over the world," Irish said.
"From a players' association point of view I want to thank Mark for his contribution to the players' cause," Irish added. "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' for longer than most of us can remember. From the past, present and future players of South Africa, thank you Mark Boucher."