For Mark Boucher, his career with the Proteas came to a symbolic end with SA’s win over England at Lord’s on Monday.
“A lovely and very special close to the chapter,” he described it.
The sadness he felt watching the first Test from home, when his career-ending eye injury was still fresh in his mind, was not so pervasive on Monday as he watched from the same couch.
He was simply happy for the team, having made peace with the fact that his active role in the Proteas squad had come to an end.
“But I don’t want to bring the attention to myself. This moment belongs to the boys,” the former wicketkeeper said.
It did belong to the boys, but as far as they are concerned, Boucher was still one of them when they beat England and claimed the number one Test ranking in the world.
“This series win was for Mark Boucher and everything he has done for the Proteas,” said captain Graeme Smith, with “We Miss U Bouch” embroidered on his shirt at the post-match press conference. It’s rumoured that the Proteas had a magazine photo clipping of Boucher stuck up outside the door of their Lord’s changing room for the duration of the third Test.
Speaking to the Cape Argus yesterday it was apparent that, despite not being on the field, Boucher had studied and considered every aspect of the final Test with the eye of a professional strategist. Unlike the rest of SA, he was calm and collected when England were only 50 runs short of chasing down the biggest second-innings target at Lord’s.
“If you’re the fielding side it seems a nerve-wracking scenario, but I put myself in the position of the batting team and realised that 50 runs with two wickets in hand was still a massive task to accomplish,” he said.
Watching from the couch was probably not the way Boucher would have liked to end his tenure with the team that he represented for a decade and a half. Certainly he would have liked to have been on the field, claiming his 150th cap and taking home a stump as a souvenir.
However, as it turns out, a souvenir is still on its way.
“Jacques Rudolph asked me whether there’s still a spot in my bar for another shirt, one that read ‘150 Tests’ – he suggested that I maybe hang it up over my hole-in-one certificate. I don’t think that’ll happen, I’m sure I’ll find a little space,” laughed Boucher.
As for his injury, he remains optimistic. The discomfort and pain that plagued him in the weeks after the freak accident cost him his left pupil. Today he will see his doctor to ask for permission to start jogging and exercising again. One of his biggest frustrations has been inactivity.