Cricket

Bouch: Life ‘through toilet roll’

2012-08-08 17:00
Mark Boucher (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Mark Boucher has spoken candidly for the first time about his adjusted life with, at least for the time being, impaired vision.

At a poignant, packed press conference at Newlands here on Wednesday, the veteran Proteas wicketkeeper, in his first public appearance since his freak, international career-ending injury to his left eye at Taunton in England almost a month ago, all but admitted that his illustrious playing time at all levels - which included 999 dismissals as gloveman for South Africa across the three formats - was over.

Boucher, 36, lost the lens, iris and pupil in that eye and had two major operations and four blood-draining procedures in the past three weeks, although there remains cause for optimism that he will regain some vision in it.

“Physically, at times, I have been in a lot of pain,” he said in a prepared statement, which he read largely without faltering before questions were invited from journalists.

“I find any amount of sunlight very harsh and have thus been restricted to the confines of my home.”

Later asked about his day-to-day life at present, he said: “After the (first) operation the headaches were quite bad. Sleeping at night ... I was told initially to sleep on one side which can get really irritating.

“You lose a lot of depth (of vision) ... you go to shake a person’s hand and you end up shaking before the hands (meet), which is, well, different.

“It’s a bit like looking at the world through a toilet roll or something like that. I haven’t really felt up to doing anything. It’s been different.

“But people go through these things, you get over it, and I’ll lick my wounds and move on.”

Was he immediately aware of the severity of the accident?

“No. Your first reaction is to put your hand to your eye. I felt some sort of fluid coming out of the eye, and thought it was blood. But having a white glove on, I looked at it and there was no blood.

“I saw this white stuff on it which didn’t look too great. I tried to open the eye and couldn’t see much out of it. I started walking off the field and that’s where the shock sort of set in ... I just lost my legs in front of me.”

Typically of the devout team man for his country, since his debut in 1997, he admitted that he had since watched “pretty much every ball” of the ongoing Test series against England on television.

“(During coverage) I get happy in the good times for the team, and sometimes in the tougher spells I almost wanted to jump through the screen and pat guys on the back, like when Kevin Pietersen was going strong (at Headingley) and we were struggling for wickets at one stage, to tell them to keep going.

“That’s the sort of time I’ve missed; where I knew I could make a bit of a difference. I’ve got to let that feeling go now. The team is in very good hands.”

Boucher also paid tribute to the way AB de Villiers has adapted to the void behind the stumps.

“I think AB’s done really well. He didn’t go over there intending to ‘keep, and the ball does tend to move around a lot - he hasn’t dropped too many.

“There’ll always be the odd critic, but personally I feel he’s done really, really well. For him to put down one or two in the entire series, especially given the batsman that he is ... I’d take that!”

While stopping just short of entirely ruling it out, he hinted heavily that his plans for a continued playing role with the Cape Cobras had been shelved.

“At the moment ... no. It depends on how the eye heals. That’s going to take a bit of time, and it’s about how much vision I do get back.

“If I do get back some sort of vision, that’d be great. I’ve also got to look at my health: if something like this happened to my other eye I’d be in a bit of trouble. Obviously I’d like to carry on playing; right now I don’t see it happening in the near future.

“The return to domestic cricket was purely (intended to be) for a year or so, to help nurture one or two youngsters through with the Cobras. If there is a comeback domestically ... it would surprise me, and a few other people too, I think.”

Asked by Sport24 how much satisfaction he would have from knowing that several of his international records were highly unlikely to be eclipsed in his lifetime, he said: “To be honest I haven’t really been thinking about that at all, with what’s been going on with me, and the other sport that’s been on the go.

“I haven’t sat down to reflect on my career yet. If anything I’ve thought about some of the times off the field that I will miss.

“In the next couple of months, statistical stuff may hit home a bit, and I’m sure I will be very proud. Right now there’s too
much else on my mind.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    mark boucher  |  cricket
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