My, what havoc a bail can cause!
It was such a freakish thing to happen, for a bail from the disturbed stumps of Somerset batsman Gemaal Hussain, to fly straight into the left eye of veteran South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.
With blood streaming from his eyeball, Boucher had to leave the field immediately. As it turned out yesterday, Test cricket's most successful gloveman had also left the game for good.
"Due to the severity of my eye injury, I will not be able to play international cricket again," he announced via a statement.
"I had 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."
Just like that, with one tumble of a bail, a career of 147 Tests, 295 One-Day Internationals and 25 Twenty20 matches was brought to an end.
It must have been a thing of horror for Jacques Kallis, a good friend and for all of his international career, a regular companion in the slip cordon, to see Boucher go down on Monday. The only South African to represent his country more than Boucher, one could only guess at his thoughts over the last couple days.
It must be an especially chilling feeling for a professional sportsman to admit that at any time, a bad tackle, an untimely blow, a bad tear or twist and your livelihood could be taken away.
Athletes demand so much from their bodies and often risk their well-being for the sake of sport.
It is not for lack of description that a fielder who crouches so close to a batsman so as to hear his stomach growl is described as being at "silly" something or the other.
Imagine getting whacked in the face from such close quarters; like old warrior Gus Logie did following a big swing by the very big Australian Merv Hughes during a Test Down Under in the 1988-89 series.
I recall too, how Tobago's hard-hitting batsman Ken Williams' career for Trinidad and Tobago was ended after he was struck in the face and got one of his eyes damaged by a Winston Benjamin bumper during regional cricket in 1994.
Others have had their careers ended by death itself.
Older followers of West Indies cricket always speak highly of the budding all-rounder O'Neill "Collie" Smith, who was lost to the game at just 26, following a car accident in which one Garry Sobers was the driver. The sleeping Smith never knew his end had come.
Just as tragic and more dramatic was the demise of Cameroon footballer Marc Vivien Foe from a heart attack on the field during a 2003 Confederations Cup match against Colombia in Lyon, France.
These are by no means the only examples of sporting careers being taken away by mishap.
I am sure dear reader, you can think of many others, famous and not-so-famous who have had to come to terms with an unexpected end to their playing days. Think Giselle Salandy, Mickey Trotman, etc.
The Boucher case is to my memory, though, the most bizarre career-ending incident I can recall.
How many times in his 14 years standing up close to the stumps for South Africa would balls have just whizzed past his nose or eyes and bats almost collided with his skull? And yet comes along this bail to find such a sensitive target. They should burn it!
But seriously, the whole thing is a reminder—as if everyday life does not do so already—that this is a very uncertain world, where nothing is guaranteed.
This England tour was going to be 35-year-old Boucher's last to the UK, and speculation was that he would have retired when it was over. But the timing of his departure was taken away from him. And he leaves a bit of unfinished business.
Boucher—Test wicket's leading wicketkeeper with 532 dismissals—needed just one more to complete 1,000 in international cricket. He will now remain stuck on 999.
Worse, he must now fight for perfect sight again, and come to grips with premature retirement.
There are many lessons here.
I don't suppose too many young men and women, dreaming of fame and fortune in sport think too much about "what if".
"It won't happen to me," they most likely tell themselves. Hopefully not.
But such cases like Mark Boucher's, show how careful a person has to be about what he makes his priority in life. The choices made could profoundly impact a man's future.
For those people who put their eggs in the sporting basket; it probably would be good for them not to be so tunnel visioned. The playing days will end—sooner or later.
But these tales of sporting stories gone sour, also teach something else: Make the best of the time you have.
Mark Boucher will not have many regrets about what he did on the cricket field, because he dedicated himself to his craft for over a decade and reaped good results. How many West Indian cricketers, T&T Olympic hopefuls and Soca Warrior footballers can honestly say they are doing the same?
Do they see every training session or even time away from scheduled training as an opportunity to build themselves up; to fine-tune their craft and themselves? Or is it that "time will take care of that"?
Seems to me Father Time is not such a patient fellow.
Better it is to get a move on, then, because regret can be a bitter meal to consume.