Every time a debate about the Best Wicket-keeper of all times is held , it usually boils down to a toss-up between Adam Gilchrist and Ian Healy. Two of the finest to have graced the pitch. They not only were Rock-solid behind the stumps , but could blast any opposition apart once they stood in front of the stumps with a bat in hand. A lot has been said and written about these 2 LEGENDS. Any amount of credit for their contribution to cricket would fall short. Hence , I would not touch these two , but instead pay a tribute to someone whose records were over-shadowed by these two contemporaries of his – MARK VERDON BOUCHER.
Mark Boucher was the first-choice wicket-keeper for South Africa in all formats of the game for almost one and a half decade. He holds the record for the most dismissals in Test cricket. He got the record originally when he overtook the former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy in October 2007. He then lost the record to Adam Gilchrist before regaining it in 2008.
Boucher is also second on the all-time list for maximum dismissals in One Day Internationals, also behind Adam Gilchrist. He once held the record for the highest score by a nightwatchman in Test cricket with 125 for South Africa v Zimbabwe at Harare in 1999-00. On 12 March 2006 he hit the winning runs for South Africa against Australia, in what is termed as the Greatest One Day International ever played.
All the above mentioned records are a meagre reflection of his value to the side. He was one of the most-important cog in the South African side that rose to the standards of Australia. His Agility while keeping wickets was well complimented by his Power-hitting strokeplay. He holds the record for hitting the 2nd fastest ODI Century – in 44 balls. A Team-man to the core , the word NO didn’t exist in his vocabulary. Boucher would always be ready to step up the plate when the team needed him the most. Infact , some of his finest innings have come under extremely dicey and precarious situations.
He became the first wicketkeeper in the history of test cricket to reach the milestone of 400 dismissals when he caught Danish Kaneria off the bowling of Makhaya Ntini on 10 October 2007 in the second test of the Bank Alfalah Test Series against Pakistan at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
Boucher left the game as the wicketkeeper with the most number of dismissals in Tests (555)—more than a hundred ahead of the second-placed Adam Gilchrist who ended his career with 416. Boucher also has the most number of overall dismissals in international cricket for a wicketkeeper (999), with Gilchrist placed second again.
An ill-timed eye injury in July 2012 during a county match cost him not just left eye lens , iris and pupil ; but also his Career and with it a dream to complete a 1000 International dismissals. This is just my small tribute to the Player who never considered his team as his professional commitment , but it was his Family. History books may not remember him as the Best Keeper to have donned the gloves , But Mr Boucher Your Achievements speak for themselves. He’ll always live in the hearts of not just the South-African fans , but all the cricket maniacs across the globe.