South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has retired from international cricket after sustaining a severe eye injury in the tour match against Somerset.
The announcement was made by Proteas captain Graeme Smith, who read out a statement on behalf of the 35-year-old during the lunch break on day two at Taunton.
Boucher was struck in the eye by a bail on Monday when leg-spinner Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain. It was later confirmed he had suffered a lacerated eyeball, and he underwent emergency surgery that same evening.
On Tuesday, before play got back underway in the match, Cricket South Africa confirmed the veteran gloveman would be heading home from the tour, with the injury to be assessed again on his return to South Africa.
Sadness and pain
"It is with sadness and pain that I announce that I will not be able to play international cricket again," the statement read by Smith said.
"I 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.
"I have a number of thank-yous to make to people who have made significant contributions during my international career, which I will do in due course.
"For now, I would like to thank the huge number of people, many of whom are strangers, for their heartfelt support during the last 24 hours.
"I am deeply touched by all the well wishes, and I wish the team well in the UK as I head home on to a road of uncertain recovery."
Smith also issued a personal statement, describing Boucher - who holds the world record for most Test dismissals - as a "true Proteas warrior".
"Bouch, we have walked a long road together, and we are saddened to part under these circumstances," the South Africa skipper said.
"For the 14 years of your international career, you have been a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything.
"You have been a 100 percenter for this team. You have been more than a performer, you have been a motivator, an inspirer, an energiser and a good friend to many.
"You leave us today with sad hearts, but also with a deep gratitude for your contributions to our team, and to us as people.
"The fighting spirit you brought to team remains with us. We wish you a good as possible recovery from your injury.
"As we bid you a farewell as an international cricketer and wish you well for your future, we keep you as a friend and respected Proteas warrior.
"We all know how much he has meant to us as a person, but his stats speak for themselves. I think he was in line to achieve his 150th Test match, his 1,000th dismissal in the game, so many other world records and stats that went with that.
"If you add that to the type of person he was, he will go down as one of the greats of the game, certainly one of the greats in South African cricket.
"I think now we are just more worried about Mark the person, and getting him through this situation."
Boucher ends his South Africa career having scored 5,515 Test runs at an average of just above 30, hitting five hundreds and 35 half-centuries.
He managed 532 catches and 23 stumpings, as well as a solitary wicket in the longest form of the game, and also played in 295 one-dayers and 25 Twenty20 matches for his country.
South Africa's team management announced that AB de Villiers - who took over against Somerset - would start behind the stumps in the first Test at the Oval next week, but a longer-term replacement would eventually be called up.