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Wed Apr 23 08:45:42 SAST 2014

Boucher's tour in balance after eye injury

Mark Salter in Taunton | 10 July, 2012 07:130 Comments
Mark Boucher of South Africa bats during day four of the First Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at the University Oval on March 10, 2012 in Dunedin, New Zealand
Image by: Phil Walter / Getty Images

It was a day South Africa will want to forget, marked principally by the horrific injury suffered by keeper Mark Boucher, who last night had surgery to repair a lacerated eyeball which could rule him out of the tour.

Team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said: "We are trying to stay positive. Our concern now is for Mark Boucher the patient, rather than Boucher the player. We don't know if it will affect his sight. It is a concern. But it is unlikely that he will be ready for the first test, or even the series."

The accident happened when Imran Tahir got a ball to turn hard and bowled Somerset's No9 batsman Gemaal Hussain. One of the bails spun viciously up into Boucher's left eye. He dropped to the ground stunned, and was then helped off the field, with blood and fluid streaming down his face.

AB de Villiers took over the gloves and it is likely that Thami Tsolekile will be summoned from the South African A team as the back-up keeper.

If South Africa needed any reminder of the urgency and intensity required to take on England, this was provided by the scratch Somerset side, who tore into the tourists' wayward bowling.

The introduction of Morne Morkel for Dale Steyn was when it all started to unravel. He started by bowling too short and too wide, a common mistake made by visitors to England. Peter Trego, who has just been dropped from the Somerset team, cut the first ball away for four then followed it with an array of drives and cuts, sometimes rising on his toes to fully effect the shot, with each stroke finding the boundary, for a total of six fours.

That set the tone and thereafter it was all downhill. From the first session of bowling, only Vernon Philander emerged unscathed. The fact that he began the season at this ground with some success might have had something to do with it. Lonwano Tsotsobe was hammered for 16 runs in his final over, and even Jacques Kallis went for three fours in a row.

In seeking a glimmer of hope, South Africa can at least be encouraged by the fact that their bowling tightened up progressively and the discipline paid off. Trego drove at Philander to be caught well low down by Kallis at second slip which signalled a clatter of wickets over the next 10 overs. And Morkel continued to hone his rhythm - having gone for 58 in this first five overs, he conceded 28 in his next four and just 14 in the third spell.

Bowling coach Allan Donald said he was "not displeased" with the display. "Everyone wants to get into form and get their confidence up, but it is not going happen overnight. I was happy at the way they stuck at it and came back."

After Somerset declared at 312/8 Jacques Rudolph opened with Graeme Smith in the absence of the injured Alviro Petersen. He was soon caught behind, stretching out to a wide delivery. Smith went to a much better delivery from Hussain, having faced just 20 balls for 10 runs, and stumps were drawn with Hashim Amla and Kallis seemingly comfortable at 96/2.

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Boucher's tour in balance after eye injury

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