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In a recent cricket match, the South African wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, suffered a lacerated sclera when hit by a ricocheting bail,1 and the irreparable vision loss, photophobia and risk of further damage forced him to retire immediately from international cricket.2 Commentators have referred to the incident as a freak accident3 and that Boucher was unlucky 4; however, he is at least the third international wicketkeeper in the last 25 years to have their career cut short by an eye injury. English wicketkeeper Paul Downton was hit in the eye by a bail in 1990 and the consequential decrease in depth perception forced him to retire.5 Indian wicketkeeper Saba Karim was hit in the eye by a ball in 2000, and he suffered a similar fate.6 These international cases may represent the tip of an iceberg considering that wicketkeepers play in each of the many cricket matches played throughout the world. During his international career spanning 467 matches, Mark Boucher was exposed to only 112 incidences where he was wicketkeeping at the moment a batsman was bowled by a spin bowler. This highlights that, although his overall chance of being exposed to incidences where a spin bowler dismissed the batsman by hitting the stumps was relatively low (0.25% of balls bowled by a spin bowler did so), the chance of being hit in the eye by a bail when this did occur might actually be higher than one may intuitively expect. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that the wicketkeeper's key role is to concentrate on the ball rather than the bails. Given the severity of the eye injuries experienced by Boucher and the other international wicketkeepers, prevention would clearly be valuable. Here, we briefly address three potential solutions to protect the eyes of wicketkeepers: …
Contributors The authors together wrote the manuscript and performed the analysis of the incident.
Funding DLM is supported by a Rubicon Grant (446-10-029) awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Marie Curie Cofund Action.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.