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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own