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Watch: Rudi Koertzen fools Makhaya Ntini with slow finger raise, Justin Langer chuckles

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Watch: Rudi Koertzen, who will be remembered as arguably the finest umpire of all time, used his dreaded “slow finger of doom” to fool Makhaya Ntini and Justin Langer in a hilarious on-field incident during Australia’s tour of South Africa in 2001/02.

Ntini went from joy to anguish in the matter of a few moments when he was at the receiving end of Koertzen’s prank during the fourth innings of the second Test match in Cape Town, where Australia needed 331 runs to win the series. Ntini went up in appeal for lbw against Langer in the third over. “That is very close,” reacted the commentators on air.

Koertzen, standing at the bowler’s end, raised his finger almost immediately, convincing all to believe Langer had been dismissed. Langer, certain of being not out, was left bewildered as Koertzen’s right hand began to rise. Meanwhile, Ntini started celebrating and walking towards the rest of his teammates.

However, instead of signalling ‘out’, Koertzen went on to stretch his arm diagonally, seemingly suggesting the line of the delivery: it had been crossing the off-stump. Langer, realising that he had survived, chuckled at the umpire’s antics. Ntini, too, saw the funny side, and pointed at Koertzen with a laugh as he walked back to his run-up.

Langer made the most of his “second chance”, scoring 58 in 74 balls, laying the foundation for an incredible Australia run chase.

Koertzen passed away, aged 73, on Tuesday, after being involved in a car crash.

The incident can be seen here:

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