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‘Some of the best umpiring aesthetics’ – Tributes pour in as cricket fraternity mourns Rudi Koertzen

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Tributes have poured in after legendary umpire Rudi Koertzen died in a car crash at the age of 73.

Three other people were killed in the same head-on collision near Riversdale on Tuesday, according to reports. Koertzen was on his way back home from Cape Town after a golf weekend when the accident took place. His son, Rudi Koertzen Jr told Algoa FM News: “He went on a golf tournament with some of his friend, and they were expected to come back on Monday, but it seems they decided to play another round of golf.”

Koertzen made his debut as an on-field umpire in 1992 and officiated a total of 397 international matches across formats, including 66 times as television umpire over a career that lasted 18 years. He became renowned for his “slow finger of doom” – a moniker used to describe the slow rise of his finger to signal a dismissal.

Koertzen was the on-field umpire in 209 ODIs, surpassing David Shepherd’s record of 172 ODIs during the 2007 ODI World Cup game between West Indies and England. Only Aleem Dar has stood as umpire in more ODIs (219). Koertzen is also one of three umpires to stand in 100 Test matches.

He also officiated the 2009 Women’s World Cup final between England and New Zealand. He last officiated in a game between Pakistan and Australia at Leeds in 2010, where he was also given a guard of honour along with a signed jersey. His last domestic game was the 2011 IPL final between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings.

The South African Test team, who are currently playing a tour match against the England Lions in Canterbury, will sport black armbands in his honour.

Aleem Dar, who has officiated in over 400 international matches, told ESPNCricinfo: “It is a very big loss foremost for his family and then for South Africa and cricket,” Dar said of Koertzen’s death. “I stood in so many games with him. He was not only very good as an umpire but also an excellent colleague, always very cooperative on field and also always willing to help off the field. Because of the way he was, he was also well-respected by players.”

Marais Erasmus, who recently officiated in the Sri Lank-Pakistan Test match in Galle, said: “Rudi was such a strong character, physically and mentally. He paved the way for South African umpires to get to the world stage. Made us all believe it’s possible. A true legend. As a young umpire, a learnt a lot from him.”

The cricketing world also paid tribute to the former umpire.

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