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S. Africa's Boucher returns home after eye injury

By AFP

LONDON (AFP) - South Africa wicket-keeper Mark Boucher will return home after suffering an eye injury during the first day of the Proteas' tour opener against English county Somerset, his team confirmed on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old had to undergo surgery on a "laceration" to the white of the left eyeball on Monday night after being struck by a bail on day one of the Proteas' tour match at Taunton.

"Mark Boucher will be returning home from the tour. Selectors will name a replacement in due course. Thank you all for your positive thoughts," said Cricket South Africa on Twitter.

A Cricket South Africa spokeswoman later confirmed that Boucher's replacement on the tour would be named on Wednesday.

The incident occurred when a ball from spinner Imran Tahir clean bowled Gemaal Hussain, with Boucher stood up to the stumps and wearing a cap instead of a helmet.

He immediately hit the ground and was helped from the pitch with blood apparently coming from his eye.

South Africa's team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee revealed that Boucher's hopes of playing the remainder of what could have been his final international tour were over, but also that there are wider health concerns.

"The extent of the eye injury can be described as severe. The eyeball (globe of the eye) was repaired during the operation," Moosajee said.

"The long-term prognosis at this stage remains unknown. He is definitely out of the series and will return home as soon as able to travel."

Boucher may be replaced by the versatile AB de Villiers, who has previously provided cover behind the stumps in both Tests and one-day internationals, although South Africa may wish to send for specialist Thami Tsolekile.

Boucher has been a mainstay of the South Africa side for 15 years, appearing in 147 Tests and becoming the first wicket-keeper to take 500 catches in Test cricket, where he has also scored five hundreds.

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