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Thu Apr 24 23:48:11 SAST 2014

Boucher discusses injury and his future plans

TEAMtalk Media | 09 August, 2012 09:110 Comments
CSA and Mark Boucher press conference
Mark Boucher during the Cricket SA and Mark Boucher press conference at Sahara Park Newlands on August 08, 2012 in Cape Town
Image by: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images

Former Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has released an update on his condition for the first time in three weeks, since his eye was badly damaged during the Proteas opening tour match against Somerset.

Boucher was struck in the left eye while keeping to Imran Tahir, and though it is not clear whether it was a bail, a ball or both that did the damage, he was forced to retire from the game just three Tests short of his 150th, and on 999 international dismissals.

Boucher, who had maintained radio silence while undergoing surgeries and recovery, sent out a statement on Wednesday, detailing his healing process, plans for the future and thanking all those involved with his career and recovery.

Boucher said: "It was with many emotions that I left England more than 3 weeks ago. Although it was common knowledge that Lord's was going to be my last Test match, this injury brought that about earlier and I left England suddenly for an uncertain future regarding my health.

"It has been a difficult time for me mentally and physically. I have lost the lens, iris and pupil in my left eye. There was severe damage to my retina. I have had 2 major operations and 4 blood draining operations in the past 3 weeks and physically, at times, I have been in a lot of pain.

"I believe I am in good hands with my eye specialist and I accept that the healing process is a long one and that attaining some vision in my left eye will take some time and a lot of patience.

"It does get uncomfortable at times and being a sportsman, I want to be active and outdoors but, without a pupil, I find any amount of sunlight very harsh and have thus been restricted to the confines of my home.

"It is unlikely that I will play any professional cricket again in the near future, which is very unfortunate as I was looking forward to contributing as a player for the Cobras. The risk of additional damage to my left eye or even damage to the other eye, doesn't warrant it."

Boucher went on to detail what his plans had been for life after cricket, prior to the injury, and then said what he would like to do with his future in the aftermath of his surgeries.

The 35-year-old added: "As my retirement was imminent, I had been in the planning stages of a couple of projects. Right now, I can think of nothing better than to follow my passion which is wildlife and I am proud to announce that together with SAB and its Castle Lager brand, with which I have had a long relationship that started when I began playing cricket for SA, we are in the process of setting up the SAB Boucher Non-Profit Company.

"The company aims to help in the fight against Rhino poaching in South Africa and Africa. I will be integrally and actively involved in raising funds through the 'Our Rhinos in Safe Hands' campaign, which will be launched in the next few weeks.

"In addition, Jacques Kallis and I have launched our own wine label 'The Innings' and we are really pleased that it appeared in some local stores for the first time this past weekend and that sales have been great.

"These are 2 projects that I will be working on while continuing to focus on my healing and I look forward to exploring the other amazing opportunities as, and when, my healing allows."

Boucher went on to thank everyone involved in his recovery, from sponsors to team mates to his girlfriend, as well as fans and the media.

He said: "I have been overwhelmed by the incredible support I have received and I would like to say a few thank you's. To my fans, fellow cricketers from around the world, sportsmen and women from other sporting codes, businessmen, politicians, neighbours, thank you for taking the time to show me your concern.

"Doc Moosajee, thank you for being at my bedside throughout my first night in hospital, for flying back with me to SA and for continuing to check in on me day in and day out.

"To the Proteas''squad, thank you for the amazing memories, Switzerland will be right up there with the best of them and thank you for being with me during my darkest hours."

He concluded his statement by saying he did not want sympathy as he'd had a long and successful career, and was looking forward to new challenges.

"Finally, I have had a lot of messages of sympathy. Although I appreciate the sentiments expressed, I don't want people to feel sorry for me. Injuries happen and this could have happened earlier on in my career.

"I am incredibly grateful for the length of career that I have had and the amazing things I have experienced and people I have met during that time.

"This is just another challenge in my life and something that I will be working to overcome," he concluded.

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