Ian Bell: That blow to Mark Boucher was a real sickener

View From the Middle: A massive part of South Africa's success revolved around Boucher

During practice at the start of the one-day international season I was hit in the face by a ball. There was a bad gash, what turned out to be a fractured jaw and a lot of pain, and I thought I had no chance of playing the next day.

But it's amazing what 24 hours and a few painkillers can do. It feels fine now and maybe it helped me to clear my mind of all the other distractions that might have affected me on returning to the limited overs team.

I thought of this when I heard the dreadful news about Mark Boucher's retirement from the game, caused by the freak accident of being hit by a flying bail while he was keeping wicket in South Africa's opening match of their tour against Somerset.

Only four or five inches separated where we were hit. It's absolutely sickening and a real sad way for him to go out of the game. He's been an absolute great and not just because of those statistics which show that he has taken more catches than any other keeper. When you play against someone like Mark Boucher you know that you are always in for a fight.

With their batting line-up South Africa don't collapse too often but, on the rare occasions they have lost a few wickets quickly, he was the kind of guy who would come in and get them out of a hole. He was one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen we have seen and probably will see in a long time.

He wasn't overly-aggressive with the verbals at all. But you got his body language and he was the centre of their bowling, their fielding. A massive part of the success South Africa have had revolved around him as a character and a player.

As one of the best keeper-batsman you could ever play against, he's clearly going to be a loss in the Test series starting next week. But there is a lot of quality in that side all the way through with bat and ball; they are experienced cricketers. I am sure that Graeme Smith will be in there saying, "Whatever we do we are going to do this for Mark Boucher". It may actually bring them closer as a group.

We should definitely be in a superb frame of mind after such a good run in the one-day series against West Indies and Australia. After winning 2-0 and 4-0, we did more or less everything that we could.

But it's back to the red-ball game now and I'm looking forward to playing a championship match before the Test series. It's not about how many runs or how long you bat for; I think it's a mind shift from playing one-day cricket for three or four weeks and getting into the rhythm of four-day and five-day cricket; leaving outside off stump and getting those routines right.

The white ball swings a bit upfront but it doesn't seem to do as much as the red ball and I have been opening in the one-dayers and now will be back to No 5 in the Tests, where I might have to go in and face a spinner straightaway. I think it helped when I played for the Lions before the opening match in the West Indies series.

It doesn't guarantee you runs in a Test match, of course, but I'm hoping it will get me that bit closer, and also with the weather we have been having I don't feel knackered or anything like that. It's optional: I just want the opportunity of batting in the middle one more time before facing the South Africans.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game