Former South African umpire Rudi Koertzen, along with three other people died in a car accident near Riversdale on Tuesday, a news report revealed. The 73-year-old Koertzen was on his way back home from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape, after a golf weekend when the tragic incident took place. His son, Rudi Koertzen Jr said that his father died on impact.
RIP Rudi Koertzen _
The umpire has sadly passed at the age of 73 and will be remembered for his iconic ‘slow finger’ _ pic.twitter.com/mFry06XOaP
— England’s Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) August 9, 2022
“He went on a golf tournament with some of his friends, and they were expected to come back on Monday, but it seems they decided to play another round of golf”, Koertzen Jr told South African outlet Algoa FM News.
Koertzen officiated in 331 international matches, a record at the time of his retirement in 2010 – Pakistan’s Aleem Dar has since gone past Koertzen. Along with Dar and West Indies’ Steve Bucknor, Koertzen was one of only three umpires to stand in over 100 Tests.
“It is a very big loss foremost for his family and then for South Africa and cricket,” Dar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“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,” he added.
Fellow South African umpire, Marais Erasmus, 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.”
Koertzen’s first international series was India’s tour of South Africa in 1992-93 as his first game was the second ODI in Gqeberha (then Port Elizabeth). He went on to become one of the best and most well-respected umpires in the world, and won praise in September 1999 for refusing a bribe to manipulate a match between West Indies and India in Singapore. However, the 2007 World cup final was a blip in Koertzen’s career. He was the third umpire in that match in Barbados, where the officials came in for criticism – and were penalised by the ICC – following a chaotic finish to the game.
Following his retirement from internationals in 2010, Koertzen published a book, Slow Death: Memoirs of a Cricket Umpire (with Chris Schoeman), in which he forthrightly addressed the 2007 World Cup final and other high-profile “errors” he had made in his career.
The last representative game he stood in was in 2011, an IPL match between Royal Challenger Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru.