It was January 23, 2009 and on a balmy night in Sydney, Australia and South Africa were playing the third match of a five-game one-day international series. The Australians had set South Africa 270 to win, but after a good start they’d slipped to 164/5 seemingly handing the Australians the initiative.
Enter Mark Boucher. Such troubled times were periods which Boucher relished. Smashed on the foot by a 150km/h yorker from Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait and clearly in pain Boucher battled on for another 45 minutes. South Africa won, achieving a record score in the process, with Boucher not out at the end, but with a broken toe.
It was an innings that epitomised Boucher. The going was tough, so he got going. There are the outrageous numbers and a plethora of records next to his name, but it is as a team-mate and friend that Boucher will be missed. He was a vital strategist for the South African team. A creative thinker and an enforcer.
But while the tributes have poured in about his cricket exploits there is a very real human story too. Boucher may not be able to see out of his left eye again. “It’s not about cricket any more,” said Boucher’s closest friend Jacques Kallis. “It’s about a mate and hoping he recovers fully. It puts cricket and life into perspective.”
We share Kallis’ sentiments.