Horrible, mean and undeserved

Those who believe in the alignment of the planets couldn’t fail to have been titillated by the prospect of Mark Verdon Boucher’s final test match being his 150th and played at Lord’s, the home of cricket. If he was a fast bowler it would have been presumptuous in the extreme to count three matches ahead, but he simply didn’t get injured. And when he did, he gritted his teeth and played on. Like he did with a broken toe in Adelaide a few years ago.

So it seemed perfectly healthy and normal to look ahead and ‘plan’ the final days of one of the great players.

Now there will always be something a little Bradmanesque about him being stranded on a total of 999 international dismissals, a total – like Sir Don’s test batting average of 99.94 – that may never, ever be challenged.

The only thing that could possibly irk the great gloveman more than the pain of the injury and the (far greater) pain of missing out on a series he was as excited about as any in the preceding 17 years, is the prospect of the ‘suits’ who systematically doubted his worth to the national team now issuing statements of respect and appreciation.

It’s tiresome but normal for human beings to realise too late the value of those they have lost. The same applies to artists and politicians as much as it does to sportspeople. The reality of Boucher’s value has only just started to emerge. Some people who doubted his worth are now speaking like life-long admirers.

Mark Boucher was never perfect. Who is? The feisty, in-your-face, aggressive honesty which characterised his personality and approach to the game was not to everyone’s taste. Especially not the administrators who couldn’t cope with his refusal to make small-talk and be ‘polite’.

Right now he doesn’t know whether he will have the sight of his right eye. It’s that serious. But his tweets on Tuesday suggest he has quickly recognised the reality of the situation. It is a desperately sad, horribly unfair situation, but he has had a gloriously successful career and will always be remembered as one of the greatest ever.

Life and death is a different matter, as Tom Maynard reminded us a couple of weeks ago.

Boucher has been reminded over the last 24 hours of how much he is respected, admired and maybe even loved. No doubt much more will be written during the course of the tour. Enough for now. Except the obvious – travel well, and get well Bouch. All the best.

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