July 12, 2012

Mark Boucher the poacher! A tribute to the legend

Mark Verdon Boucher, born 3 December 1976, is a retired South African Wicket keeper, who holds the record for the most Test dismissals by a wicket-keeper. Anwesh Upadhyaya pays a tribute to the Cricket legend. 

Mark Boucher the poacher! A tribute to the legend 
by Anwesh Upadhyaya

He was educated at Selborne College and has represented Border, Africa XI, ICC World XI, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and of-course South Africa. He had been a regular feature of the South African side since the 1997/1998 tour to Australia, until his retirement in July 2012 after a serious eye injury against Somerset.

Mark Boucher!!! The poucher in action!!!

This 35 years old Wicket keeper cum right handed Batsman has always been the first choice wicket keeper for the Proteas. He has been considered, if not the best, one of the greatest wicket keepers South Africa has ever produced. He holds the record for the maximum dismissals in Test Cricket. He is second, behind Adam Gilchrist, in ODI format.
Mark Boucher’s debut was not at all a start which any debutant will like. October 17, 1997 Mark made his first debut against Pakistan at Sheikhpura which is in Pakistan. It was a rain marred test match where he just had a chance to keep for 17 overs as 3 days were washed off. True, he got a chance to bat but only for a mere 6 overs.

Entering the Record Books
March 6 1998, In the test series against Pakistan at Port Elizabeth, Mark Boucher hit the headlines by scoring a half century and more importantly accounting for 9 dismissals. (8 catches and 1 stumping) He equaled his predecessor David Richardson’s South African record. 

Boucher with full concentration on the ball!

Success in England
August 10 1998, Mark Boucher cemented his place in the SA line up by 26 dismissals on the tour of England. This feat, at that time, was 4th highest in test series.

Impact with Bat
January 15 1999, Mark Boucher gets his much coveted test Century after a year of international career. The Caribbean team was white washed 5-0 and Boucher follows up the year with 2 more centuries. This was the first time he made an impact as a Batsman.   

Batting Landmark
July 30 2000, 1000 runs scored in Tests during his half century against Sri Lanka at Kandy. A reputable achievement for Mark Boucher and another glorious moment for him and SA was when he caught Muttiah Muralitharan which actually won the game for his team with just 7 runs to level the series.
Numero Uno ! 
March 12, 2001, Wavell Hinds was the 153rd victim of Mark and this made Mark Boucher the number one wicket keeper of South Africa technically surpassing Richardson who had 150 dismissals. This feat was achieved in Port of Spain. 

Boucher in Acrobatic Action!
 A Taste of Captaincy 
February 22-October 21, 2002, After six years of International Career, Mark Boucher was asked to lead the South African team. It was a tough series (SA lost) against the Aussies but it included a consolation victory at Durban. Apart from that, the Proteas smashed Bangladesh in October. His 200th catch was also registered in the match against Bangladesh.

The 1st Wicket!
May 2, 2005, In his 84th test, Mark Boucher gets to bowl once in International Cricket.

Boucher with the ball

The outing was a successful one, he knocked of Dwayne Bravo, and finished with the figures 1.2 – 0- 6-1. Quite impressive for a newcomer!! ;)

Dismissal No.300!!
November 16, 2005, Mark Boucher completed his 300th dismissal in 50 over format. Adam Gilchrist was the only one who had accounted for such high number of dismissals at that time and Boucher was the second man to achieve that rare feat, The special victim was Gautam Gambhir.

Twin Delights 
January 11, 2007, Mark Boucher achieves the rare distinction of playing 100 tests. The 4th player from South Africa to achieve this rare feat. But that wasn’t all, he had 366 catches in his booty, the highest at that time surpassing Ian Healey. That’s called a cherry on the cake!

No.400 and the Poor Marsh 
January 23 2009, Shaun Marsh was the special victim here, which helped Boucher to make his 400th catch in the ODI format. He always was closely trailing Adam Gilchrist and this was Boucher’s 275th ODI.

Byebye Gilly !!   
November 9, 2011, Well, Mark Boucher’s 500th Test catch, crossing his rival Gilchrist by a margin of 121 catches. A big deal and a big reward for the South African star!

Wicket keeping legends! Boucher wielding the willow as Gilchrist behind the stumps

Glorious career comes to an end
July 9 2012, A sad day for the entire cricketing fraternity. Having announced that the England series will be his last, Mark Boucher suffered a fierce injury in the first warm up game.

Boucher get's injured :(
The bail ricocheted off the wicket and hit him in the left eye, and he was without protection. 

Blood gushing out from the eye

This freak injury required a surgery and Mark immediately announced his retirement. 

The Giant is in the ground :(

This day will be etched in my memory forever as it is my utmost regret and also probably a bad luck, 9th July is my birthday(Anwesh Upadhyaya's birthday)

However Mark Boucher had a rare achievement, which you can say is the peacock feather in his cap ;) The game, which is referred as the Greatest ODI or Greatest of All time, was a high scoring match between the Oz and the Proteas. Well, the rivalry between these two was always intense starting from semi final in the World Cup 1999. This game however changed the scenario. March 12, 2006 Australian Captain won the toss and elected to bat. With the series leveled at 2-2, the Oz put up a score of 434 – 4 in 50 overs. Chasing this impossible target, South Africa gave a staunch reply. Every player played their part, but in last over the Proteas fumbled a bit, and they just had one wicket remaining with Boucher on strike, facing the ferocious Brett Lee!. With 4 to win from 2 balls, with an aggressive field setup, Boucher kept all his cool and played a confident glamorous straight drive….. and woah! What a victory! Chasing 434 against the World Champion, Boucher was able to provide the clincher of this magnificent game! 

It's celebration time after chasing 434 successfully!

A man to go to war with, but never against, Mark Boucher packed all the archetypical attributes of the South African cricketer into his short, stocky frame. He was relentlessly competitive, invariably aggressive, and as hard and uncompromising as the new ball. After an international career that lasted almost 15 years, the end was desperately unfortunate, as Boucher was forced to announce his retirement after being hit in the eye by a bail in a warm-up game on the tour to England in 2012, which would have been his last series anyway. Boucher finished with 998 international dismissals as a wicketkeeper, including 555 in 147 Tests.

Signing off with a heavy heart and prayers for his quick recovery is Anwesh!