Bangalore, Jul 11: Mark Boucher, who called time on his international career following a serious eye injury, has not only won fans in his home country South Africa but here in India too and in the city of Bangalore.
The wicketkeeper, who was forced to quit the game following a freak injury to his eyeball during a warm-up game in Tauton, England on Monday, has won a lot of plaudits for the way he played the game.
Boucher's India connection started here in Bangalore when he came for Indian Premier League in 2008.
The 35-year-old was picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for $450,000 for the first three years of IPL. After his stint here, he found a new IPL home in Kolkata.
Boucher was the number one stumper for RCB in IPL. He was one of the favourite players and had many followers in Bangalore. Right from the start of IPL, Boucher has wowed the fans at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya felt "sad" to hear about Boucher's retirement after the injury.
"Sad to hear of @markb46 retirement..... especially given the circumstances in which it took place..." Sidhartha (@sidharthamallya) tweeted.
The official twitter page of RCB (@RCBTweets) wrote: "Best wishes to the very talented and spirited @markb46 who retired from International cricket today. Wish you a quick, healthy recovery!"
Knight Riders (@KKRiders) too wished Boucher on the micro blogging site. "We wish Mark Boucher a speedy recovery from his injury and the best of luck for all his future endeavors."
When Boucher made his IPL debut in April, 2008, he was 31. Considering the age factor at the time, many thought he was old for Twenty20 format. But Boucher had said age was not a barrier to succeed in the shortest format of the game. And he proved it too.
For Boucher, he had his good friend and South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis in RCB squad. Both, till today, enjoy a great relationship on and off the field.
Following Boucher's eye injury, Kallis and many of other South African players showed support and wished him speedy recovery.
"It's not about cricket any more. It's about a mate and hoping he recovers fully. It puts cricket and life into perspective. It's been a very tough 24 hours not only for myself but for his family and team-mates," Kallis was quoted as saying in the media.
In IPL 1, Boucher played 10 games for RCB followed by 12 in the next when the tournament moved to South Africa. In his final year in RCB jersey, in 2010, he was preferred in five games. In scored 388 runs for RCB in 27 matches.
His best time with RCB was in the inaugural IPL year where he got 225 runs at an average of 32.14 with one fifty. This was RCB's second best batting average that year. He smashed 24 fours and six sixes in 2008. The next year he scored 150 runs (average 30) in 12 games.
One of Boucher's memorable knocks for RCB had come against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on April 20, 2008. His hurricane 19-ball 39 not out took RCB home while chasing 166. He won Man-of-the-match award for that innings.
Some of the fans in Bangalore recollected how Boucher was a good lower order batsman for RCB. Many also felt he could have been retained by the franchise for the more seasons.
Boucher, a hard-hitting batsman with a never-say-die attitude, will certainly be missed in international career.
Indian fans will be hoping that he recovers soon and considers another stint in IPL.