Felled by a career-ending injury, renowned former cricketer Mark Boucher found a new calling. He chats to Carla Calitz about this and his new book.
“The shock was setting in. Suddenly it was like my legs had been cut off and I’d been shot by a sniper at the same time. I could feel nothing below my waist, let alone in my feet. I dropped to the ground like a brick.” This is how Mark Boucher describes the painful consequences of his left eye being punctured by a cricket bail during a match in England in 2012 in his memoir, Bouch: Through My Eyes.
This freak accident brought his remarkable 15-year career to an abrupt close. But, in his own words, “I lost sight but gained vision.” Yes, he admits when we meet at his manager’s offices in Cape Town, he was scared and angry at his misfortune. “But I don’t think dealing with my injury has really been as difficult as people assume.”
The 37-year-old certainly looks the picture of health. He’s upbeat and still the straight shooter his many fans have come to admire. “I realised I had a choice: to feel self-pity, or be grateful for what I had. Other people are completely blind or lose a limb. Also, it happened near the end of my career. I realised I’m blessed. The way I went out has opened a lot more doors for me, so in a strange way, I wouldn’t take it back.”
In fact, a new door had already opened for him prior to the accident, when he met the man he says changed his life – Frik Rossouw, who heads up the anti-poaching intelli- gence operation in the Kruger National Park. He told Mark about the DNA database, which allows investigators to track down rhino poachers.
His first rhino darting expedition with Frik was a turning point for him. “After I woke the rhino we’d darted, I returned to our truck and sat with my foot on the bumper, about 30 metres away from the rhino. Then he walked right up to where I was sitting and put his horn where my foot had been a few seconds before. He turned, and walked away. My manager Donne Commins was sitting next to me with tears in her eyes – she said maybe there was a higher power at work. I think he just wanted to know whether I was a threat, but in that moment I felt as emotionally charged as when I hit the runs to win the record-breaking ‘438’ game against Australia in 2006.”
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