Boucher had to leave the field at the end of the 46th over of Somerset’s innings on Monday when a googly from Imran Tahir hit the stumps and a dislodged bail struck Boucher in the left eye. He was diagnosed with a lacerated eyeball and he will return to South Africa as soon as he is able to travel.
In a statement read out by Graeme Smith, Boucher said: “It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement. Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play international cricket again.
“I had prepared for this UK tour as well, if not better than I have prepared for any tour in my career. I had never anticipated announcing my retirement now, but circumstances have dictated differently. I have a number of thank you’s to make to people who have made significant contributions during my International career, which I will do in due course.
“For now I would like to thank the huge number of people, many of whom are strangers, for their heartfelt support during the past 24 hours. I am deeply touched by all the well wishes. I wish the team well in the UK, as I head home and onto a road of uncertain recovery.”
Smith also spoke on behalf of the team: “Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances,” he said. “For the 14 years of your international career, you have been a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything. You have been a 100 percenter for this team.
“You have been more than a performer, you have been a motivator, an inspirer, an energizer… and a good friend to many. You leave us today with sad hearts, but also with a deep gratitude for your contributions to our team, and to us as people. The fighting spirit you brought to team remains with us. We wish you a good as possible recovery from your injury. As we bid you a farewell as an International cricketer and wish you well for your future, we keep you as a friend and respected Proteas warrior.”
This tour to England was set to be his final duty for South Africa and the Lord’s Test would have been his 150th appearance. Boucher will end on 999 international dismissals, including 555 from 147 Tests, which is a record.
“The extent of the eye injury can be described as severe. The eyeball (globe of the eye) was repaired during the operation,” Mohammed Moosajee, the South Africa manager, told ESPNcricinfo earlier on Tuesday. “The long-term prognosis at this stage remains unknown. He will return home as soon as able to travel and the selectors will announce a replacement shortly.”
The South Africa selectors will name a replacement for Boucher on Wednesday. Thami Tsolekile, earmarked as the successor to Boucher and nationally contracted from April 1, is the likeliest candidate to be called up. However, the coach Gary Kirsten said AB de Villiers would take the gloves for the first Test at The Oval.
Tsolekile recently played for the South Africa A side in the two unofficial Tests against Sri Lanka A and has also been named in the squad to travel to Ireland to shadow the senior side from the third Test. He last played for South Africa in 2004 when he represented the country in three Tests including one against England at Port Elizabeth.