Sunday 22 April 2018

Cricket: Horrific eye injury likely to rule Boucher out of first England Test

Steve James

South Africa's wicketkeeper Mark Boucher is almost certainly out of the first Test against England on July 19 after sustaining a horrific eye injury at Taunton yesterday.

He was struck in the left eye by a bail that had been dislodged from the stumps. That the ball from Imran Tahir had bowled Gemaal Hussain was of little consolation.

Boucher, bleeding heavily, slumped to the ground, holding his face in distress. After lengthy treatment he was helped away, but stopped after a few yards to crouch to the ground again. He was immediately taken to hospital, and last night underwent exploratory surgery on a lacerated eyeball. The full extent of the damage should be known in the next 48 hours.

AB de Villiers took over behind the stumps and will surely now keep at the Oval in the first Test. Thami Tsolekile, who took a record-equalling eight catches in an innings for South Africa 'A' against Sri Lanka 'A' in Durban last Saturday, is an obvious replacement to be called up.

"I don't think he is going to be ready for the first Test or even the series," said team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee last night. "Our concern is for Mark Boucher the patient not the player."

With Somerset using 14 players and South Africa 13 this was the sort of match England used to play on tour. And they were usually pilloried. So South Africa have indeed gambled by having just this two-day match and a three-day fixture against Kent before the first Test. Captain Graeme Smith has pointed out, however, that his team have not lost an away Test series since Sri Lanka in 2006 and coach Gary Kirsten has insisted that preparation is "not an exact science". Watching Morne Morkel bowl, it seemed inconceivable he will be ready for next week. Yes, the pitch was slow but Morkel simply could not find a length.

Embarrassingly, his first over disappeared for 24, as Peter Trego hit all six balls for four. They were all hit on the off-side, with the best straight-driven. Opening bowlers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander were better, without fully hitting their straps.

Philander was steady, eventually dismissing Trego for 104, caught at slip by Jacques Kallis. But not before he had gathered a century off just 60 balls.

Somerset declared on 312 for eight and South Africa soon lost both openers. Jacques Rudolph edged a short and wide one and Smith edged a good delivery from Hussain. Kallis and Hashim Amla both looked in fine fettle, ushering their side to the close on 96 for two. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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