Boucher's injury puts cricket into perspective

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England may have just demolished the Aussies, but the sky is as grey as the mood in the South African camp with the cruel twist of fate that was bestowed upon Mark Boucher at Taunton.

It seems totally in keeping with this grim English summer that cricket does not seem to be of great importance at the moment. England may have just demolished the Aussies, but the sky is as grey as the mood in the South African camp with the cruel twist of fate that was bestowed upon Mark Boucher at Taunton.

Boucher's horrible eye injury is yet another reminder about the random events that come and ruin the fanatical sports bubble we live in. A day after Tatenda Taibu announced that he was quitting the game to pursue his 'true calling' in 'doing the Lord's work,' his fellow wicketkeeper-batsman was announcing his retirement from international cricket because of the trajectory of a stray bail. At the risk of sounding ungodly, what on earth is it all about?

Perhaps Taibu can forgive the sledging he used to receive from his former rival and say a few prayers in his new found vocation. These will not be easy times for the tourists, whose main concern a few days ago was to strive for the number one spot in the world.

In 1990, the former England keeper Paul Downtown had to give up the game in 1990 soon after a bail flew into his eye during a Sunday League match. However, this was not as serious as the 35-year-old's injury which required surgery and has an uncertain prognosis.

South Africa are competitive animals and professional sportsman. There is no doubt when the first Test comes around their stance and focus will have hardened to the task in hand. However, this is a salient reminder that sport and all its ultimate preparation cannot extricate itself from disorderly events.

Injury mishaps in sport do tend to test the mettle of team mates and even foes. It seems strange to say, given poor Tom Maynard's terminal fate in recent weeks, but there have been occasions where it is harder to witness things at first hand.

Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel vomited on the pitch after seeing the horrific broken leg that Coventry's David Busst suffered in a Premier League match in 1996.

England were playing New Zealand in Wellington in 1992 when David 'Syd' Lawrence's agony was deafening as his left knee cap shattered, with the noise – like the sound of a pistol shot – reaching as far as the boundary.

As much as we like to build them into supreme athletes who are programmed to 'execute their skills', cricketers are as vulnerable as the rest of us mere mortals. What a great shame the British public will not have the benefit of seeing Mark Boucher one more time.

The more important hope is that Boucher can see properly what other things life has to offer. As Jacques Kallis said: 'It's not about cricket any more. It's about a mate and hoping he recovers fully. It puts cricket and life into perspective.'

<b>By Tim Ellis</b>

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