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.
And enquired about it from me. I gifted him and he was so grateful . A gentleman and a very wonderful person. Will miss you Rudi. Om Shanti pic.twitter.com/gdSHGOoYg8
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 9, 2022
Tragic news of the sudden passing away of Rudi Koertzen. He was a gifted individual and one of the finest umpires the game has witnessed, known for his sharp decision making abilities.
My deepest condolences to his family and well wishers #RudiKoertzen pic.twitter.com/9mV1V09F7a
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) August 9, 2022
South Africa will be wearing black armbands, in honour of the umpire Rudi Koertzen, who apparently has died, which is sad news
— Will Macpherson (@willis_macp) August 9, 2022
Have just heard tragic news out of South Africa that former ICC Test Umpire, Rudi Koertzen, has died in a car accident, aged 73. Rudi was such a personality in the game and an outstanding umpire. Thoughts with Rudi’s family right now. RIP Rudi Koertzen.
— Alan Wilkins (@alanwilkins22) August 9, 2022
RIP Rudi Koertzen, the slow finger of doom. Some of the best umpiring aesthetics I’ve seen pic.twitter.com/XAqTSfDqS0
— Tom Carpenter (@Carpo34) August 9, 2022
RIP to one of the best Umpire in the World Rudi Koertzen 🥲. I always enjoyed bowling from his end. Condolences to the family and friends #RipRudi pic.twitter.com/WxqbfbDfGG
— Waqar Younis (@waqyounis99) August 9, 2022
Saddened at the tragic loss of Rudi Koertzen. What a wonderful friend and umpire. Honest, forthright and loved the game. Shared many a beer at the bar talking cricket with him. RIP my friend.
— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) August 9, 2022
Shocked to hear that former Umpire Rudi Koertzen is no more. Saw him officiate many games while growing up. And he truly had the dreaded finger. The slow pace of him raising the finger while giving the umpire made him very unique. Hope he rests in peace.
— Gurkirat Singh Gill (@gurkiratsgill) August 9, 2022
Rudi Koertzen dies aged 73 years. A top umpire, he had followed cricket first as a league player while being a clerk with South Africa Railways. Starting his umpiring career in 1981, he retired in 2010. He umpired in 108 Tests, 209 ODIs & 14 T20 Internationals. RIP pic.twitter.com/l3L4rwSaMN
— Dr. Nauman Niaz (@DrNaumanNiaz) August 9, 2022
If you’ve umpired at any level of cricket, it’s unlikely you haven’t paid “Rudi Koertzen” an ode by playing on the batter’s nerve & raising a slow finger of doom #RipRudi
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) August 9, 2022
Vale Rudi Koertzen. One of the greats of his craft but never forgot about the entertainment aspect of the sport.
The slow finger will be iconic for years to come. pic.twitter.com/2QQn7XcD2C
— Flashscore Cricket Commentators (@FlashCric) August 9, 2022
Just read about the passing away of Rudi Koertzen in a car crash . Certainly one of the top Umpires to have appeared on international scene . Thoughts and prayers with the family .
— Salman Butt (@im_SalmanButt) August 9, 2022
Sad to hear of the death of former umpire Rudi Koertzen, possessor of the slowest trigger in cricket, remover of the bails at the Oval in 2005 that signalled England’s epic Ashes victory and a thoroughly nice man.
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) August 9, 2022
Rudi Koertzen, one of the formative umpires of my era growing up with cricket.
And the owner of one of the best, slow finger raises we’ve ever seen. A master of the art and the theatre that is cricket. pic.twitter.com/jO32Uo1QbA
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) August 9, 2022