South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has retired from international cricket following the eye injury he suffered against Somerset.
The 35-year-old required three hours of surgery on his left eye and, after being released, it was first confirmed he would leave the tour.
But in a prepared statement read out by his Test captain Graeme Smith during lunch on day two of the tour match in Taunton, it was revealed the injury had forced Boucher to end his career.
Smith read Boucher's statement in the first person, surrounded by his team at the County Ground.
“It is with sadness and pain that I announce, due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play international cricket again,” Smith read from Boucher's statement.
Boucher had intended to retire at the end of the current tour, after his scheduled 150th Test in the final match of three against England.
“I prepared for this UK tour as well, if not better, than I have prepared for any tour in my career,” the statement continued.
“I had never anticipated announcing my retirement now, but circumstances have dictated differently. I have a number of thank-yous to make to people who have made significant contributions during my international career, which I will do in due course.
“For now, I would like to thank the huge number of people, many of whom are strangers, for their heart-felt support during the last 24 hours. I am deeply touched by all the well-wishers, and I wish the team well in the UK as I head home on to a road of uncertain recovery.”
Boucher suffered the freak injury when he was struck by a flying bail while standing up to leg-spinner Imran Tahir on the opening day against Somerset.
He fell to the ground and was helped from the pitch with blood apparently coming from his eye.
He was taken to hospital immediately, where he had surgery to repair a laceration to the white of his eyeball, but concerns remain over his long-term health.
Boucher's team-mates are understandably shocked and saddened by his misfortune, and team manager Dr Mohammad Moosajee spoke of the impact his injury has had at the very start of their high-profile tour. “The freak nature of the accident and the severity of the accident caused most of the players to be there (at the hospital) until about midnight and then from 7am this morning,” he said. “It has affected some of the players understandably. We are humans first and then sports people. Players like Graeme (Smith) and Jacques (Kallis) have had at least a decade-long relationship with Mark as a colleague and a friend.”