The Cruelty of Cricket

Mark Boucher

One in his eye: Mark Boucher is hit by a ball off the stumps.

A couple of days ago, Mark Boucher, the South African wicketkeeper, was injured when a ball ricocheted after hitting the stumps behind which he was standing and caromed into his left eye. Boucher was taken to hospital and the wound was serious enough that he’s now announced his retirement from international cricket. It’s a bitter blow to South Africa, on the verge of their fascinating series with England. It’s also a reminder that the hand of fate has no interest in statistical purity. Boucher was forced to retire with 999 international dismissals (555 of them in Test matches), a record that is unlikely to be matched anytime soon. One is inevitably reminded of the final innings of the greatest batsman who ever lived, Don Bradman. Needing only 4 runs to record an unprecedented average of 100 in Test cricket, Bradman strolled out in his last innings (at-bat) at the Oval cricket ground in south London in 1948 and was bowled for 0, leaving him with a still-mindnumbingly magnificent average of 99.94.

Boucher is also not the first man whose international cricket career has been ended by an eye injury. The English cricketer Colin Milburn was involved in a car crash in 1969 and lost the use of his left eye, which curtailed a promising career. Any similar victims of statistical and physical cruelty in baseball?

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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