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Cricketer Boucher rules out quick return after eye surgeries

August 8, 2012 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • South Africa's Mark Boucher rules out a quick return to cricket
  • Boucher was forced to retire from international cricket with an eye injury
  • The wicketkeeper lost the pupil, iris and lens in his left eye after being hit by a bail
  • Boucher is the most-capped wicketkeeper in the history of Test cricket

(CNN) -- Mark Boucher has revealed that his hopes of returning to competitive cricket following a serious eye injury are "unlikely" in the near future.

Boucher, whose 147 Test match caps is a record for a wicketkeeper, lost the lens, iris and pupil in his left eye after being struck by a bail during South Africa's tour of England in July.

The 35-year-old has undergone numerous medical procedures since the incident and had hoped to continue his career playing for the Cape Cobras in his homeland.

But he ruled out a speedy comeback as he does not want to risk any further damage to his eye.

"It has been a difficult time for me mentally and physically," Boucher said in statement on Wednesday.

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"I have lost the lens, iris and pupil in my left eye. There was severe damage to my retina. I have had two major operations and four blood draining operations in the past three weeks and physically, at times, I have been in a lot of pain.

"It is unlikely that I will play any professional cricket again in the near future, which is very unfortunate as I was looking forward to contributing as a player for the Cobras."

Boucher made his Test debut for South Africa in 1997 and went on to score 5,515 runs and claim a record 555 dismissals for the Proteas before being forced to call time on his international career last month.

He said he was initially unsure what had happened to him during the match in Taunton.

"All I felt was a bail hitting my eye," he told CNN. "Jacques (Kallis), who was standing at slip, seems to think that the ball actually helped the bail into my eye. I knew I was in trouble when my head hit the floor.

"I knew some fluid was coming out of my eye. I thought it might have been blood ... when I saw there was no blood in it and there was sort of white stuff coming out of it I knew I was in a bit of trouble."

The Cape Province native initially prepared himself for the worst where his eye was concerned, but he is now feeling positive about his ongoing recovery.

"When I first went to hospital the doctor said, 'Listen, you know your eye is pretty messed up. I asked him to be honest with me and he said to me, 'It's too early to say, but be mindful you might never get vision back in your eye.'

"The pupil can be replaced, the iris can be replaced, the cornea can be replaced, the retina can be replaced. The biggest thing is the retina; that is mine and the doctor's biggest worry."

Boucher said many people had expressed sympathy for the sudden end to his top-level career.

"A lot of people have said to me, 'Shame, I feel sorry for you.' If you would have told me at the beginning of my career I would have played 147 Test matches I would have taken it!

"I had plans, hopefully with both eyes working, to do quite a lot of things. I believe you get dealt certain cards that you might not enjoy, but things you can handle and I know I can handle this.

"Yes it's going to be tough, tough on me, tough on a few other people. But I believe I've got the strength to be able to handle it."

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