5 wicketkeepers who were forced to retire due to an injury
Over the years, the art of wicket-keeping has changed a lot. In the earlier decades, reliable skills with the gloves were enough to have a productive career. However, wicket-keepers are now required to contribute with the bat as well. The likes of Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher, MS Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum and Andy Flower were successful exponents in that regard.
From high-pace swinging deliveries and bouncers to spinning balls, a wicket-keeper has to overcome a lot of challenges. A very less reaction time makes his job harder. A lapse of concentration for a second or an uneven bounce can cause a career-threatening injury. Here are five wicket-keepers who were forced to end their careers due to injuries.
Paul Downton (England)
Paul Downton played 30 Test matches and 28 ODIs for England. He claimed 75 dismissals (70 catches, 5 stumpings) in Tests while in ODIs he accounted for 29 (26 catches, 3 stumpings) dismissals.
Downton played in an era when most batsman preferred not to wear helmets, let alone wicketkeepers. When he was playing for his county in a Refuge Assurance 40-over match against Hampshire at Basingstoke, disaster hit him. John Emburey bowled a fuller delivery to Julian Wood. The ball hit the stumps and the bail flew up to pierce his left eye.
“Embers bowled one of his yorkers so my hands were low and my face close to the bails and one went straight in when the ball struck the wicket. It was an impact injury as opposed to laceration and it left me with my lens being partly shattered. I spent about a week in hospital and I still have slightly blurred vision in my left eye,” Downton recalled in an interview to The Telegraph.
He played about a half-dozen matches after the injury. However, it was quite clear that he had lost his perception. So, he hung up his gloves.
Matt Prior (England)
Matt Prior played 79 Tests, 68 ODIs and 10 T20Is. He was the first England wicket-keeper to score a century on Test debut. The right-hander began with a bang by hitting an unbeaten 126 at Lord’s against West Indies in 2007.
Prior had a fruitful Test career by scoring 4099 runs at an average of 40.18 including seven tons and 28 fifties. However, he could not replicate his Test exploits in ODIs as he scored only 1282 at a poor average of 24.18 and a strike-rate of 76.76.
He claimed 256 dismissals (243 catches, 13 stumpings) in Tests to become the second most prolific wicket-keeper for England behind Alan Knott (269 dismissals). Prior was forced to retire due to Achilles heel injury. He underwent surgery hoping for a comeback. But, unfortunately, his plans didn’t materialise.
Craig Kieswetter (England)
Craig Kieswetter is known for his 49-ball 63 in the final of the 2010 World T20. Riding on his knock, England beat Australia by 7 wickets to clinch their maiden ICC tournament title.
Kieswetter represented England in 46 ODIs and 25 T20Is. He effected 65 dismissals (53 catches, 12 stumpings) in ODIs. In T20Is, he completed 20 dismissals (17 catches, 3 stumpings).
On 12 July 2014, he suffered a broken nose and fractured cheekbone when David Willey’s bouncer hit him on his face when he was batting for Somerset against Northamptonshire in a County match. The gloveman took some time off to recover from the injury before announcing his retirement from the game.
“After been given the opportunity to take some time off and step away from the game, I’ve come to the decision that wasn’t the easiest to make, yet I feel is the right one,” Kieswetter said while announcing his retirement. “Having gone through that experience of my eye injury and everything it entailed, I feel mentally I will never again be the player that I was.”
Saba Karim (India)
Saba Karim represented India in 34 ODIs and one Test. His career didn’t blossom the way he would have liked. He was a prolific runscorer in first-class cricket as evidenced by his tally of 7310 runs at a terrific batting average of 56.66.
Karim had a blistering start to his international career when he smashed 55 off 48 balls against South Africa at Bloemfontein in 1997. However, he couldn’t score a single fifty thereafter and averaged 15.73. He effected 30 dismissals (27 catches, 3 stumpings) in ODIs aside from a solitary catch in Tests.
He injured his eye when Anil Kumble’s delivery hit the batsman’s boot and then struck him on his right eye during a game against Bangladesh in 2000 Asia Cup. Although he underwent surgery and further treatments abroad, he had to retire from the game.
Mark Boucher (South Africa)
Mark Boucher is the most successful wicket-keeper in the history of the game. In a splendid career for South Africa, he accounted for 999 dismissals.
In Tests, he effected 555 dismissals (532 catches, 23 stumpings) which was 136 clear off the second-placed Adam Gilchrist. The right-hander was equally impressive in ODIs wherein he has 425 dismissals (403 catches, 22 stumpings) to his credit. His collection of dismissals is only second behind Gilchrist’s tally of 472. In T20Is, he has 19 dismissals (18 catches, 1 stumping) to his name.
Boucher was also a handy batsman. He scored 5515 runs in Tests and 4686 runs in ODIs. He was all set to play his 150th Test in England and was only one shy of the magical mark of 1000 international dismissals. When he was keeping for South Africa in a warm-up match against Somerset in 2012, a googly from Imran Tahir hit the stumps and a dislodged bail struck Boucher in the left eye. A legendary career cato an unfortunate end.
“It is with sadness, and in some pain, that I make this announcement. Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play international cricket again. “I had prepared for this UK tour as well, if not better than I have prepared for any tour in my career. I had never anticipated announcing my retirement now, but circumstances have dictated differently”, Boucher said while announcing his retirement.
Note: This post was originally published on Sportskeeda