South Africa wicket-keeper Mark Boucher is set to undergo eye surgery after suffering a freak accident during the first day of the Proteas’ tour opener against English county Somerset at Taunton yesterday.
The 35-year-old was hit in the face when a bail ricocheted off the stumps as Gemaal Hussain was bowled by Imran Tahir.
Boucher, as would be expected for leg-spinner Tahir, was standing up to the stumps, but he was wearing a cap rather than a helmet.
After treatment on the field, Boucher was helped off with blood coming from his left eye. His place behind the stumps was taken by AB de Villiers, who has kept wicket in international matches for South Africa.
The tourists later revealed Boucher had suffered a cut to the eyeball, with team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee telling the Cricket South Africa website: “Mark suffered a laceration to the sclera (white area) of his left eye.
“He will undergo emergency exploratory surgery in the next few hours, after which the ophthalmologist will be able to determine the extent of the damage.”
Former England wicket-keeper Paul Downton eventually had to retire after he too was hit in the face by a bail while standing up to the stumps in 1990.
Boucher has been a mainstay of the South Africa side for 15 years, appearing in 147 Tests and becoming the first wicket-keeper to take 500 catches in Test cricket, where he has also scored five hundreds.
After this two-day fixture, South Africa have a three-day warm-up match against Kent before the first of a three-Test series against England starts at The Oval on July 19, with the Proteas looking to deprive their hosts of the world number one ranking in the five-day game.
Other cricketers caught in the eye...
On July 1, 1961, Pataudi, playing for Oxford University then, went out with friends after a hard day in the field against Sussex at Hove. On the way back, their car clashed head-on with another car. Pataudi severely damaged his right eye and astonishingly went on to play international cricket with one eye.
In 1990, the former England and Middlesex wicketkeeper suffered a freak accident when a bail struck him in the eye during a Sunday League match. He was forced to retire in the 1991 English season.
MiLburn lost his left eye in a car accident in 1969. He could only play county cricket after that. The flamboyant batsman, weighing 18-stone, was a huge loss to cricket. He was nicknamed Ollie after the stout comic character Hardy.