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.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam