The cricket world is mourning the tragic death of umpiring legend Rudi Koertzen in a car accident in South Africa. He was 73.
Koertzen, known as the ‘Slow Death’ because of the time it took for him to raise his finger to give a batsman out, was returning to his home in the Eastern Cape province after playing in a golf tournament when the crash happened.
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South Africa's Algoa FM radio station reported that Koertzen and three other people were killed in a head-on collision near the town of Riversdale in the Western Cape province.
Cricket South Africa announced Koertzen's death on Tuesday morning but gave no details of the accident.
Koertzen, who was one of cricket's most respected umpires, stood in 108 Tests, a record 209 one-day internationals and 14 T20s over an 18-year career.
His first Test was during South Africa's return to international cricket at home in 1992, after a 22-year ban because of apartheid, while he retired in 2010.
Koertzen was famous for his unique method of giving a batter out, where he'd slowly raise his left arm with his finger pointing at the batter.
It became known as the "slow finger of death", while he also named his autobiography 'Slow Death'.
"I used to hold my hands in front of me and every time there was an appeal, I would fold them against my ribs," Koertzen once said in an interview.
"Then someone told me 'Rudi, you cannot do that. Every time you raise your hands to fold them, the bowler thinks you are going to give him a wicket'.
"So I started clasping my wrists at the back. The finger comes out slowly because it takes time for me to release my grasp at the back."
Cricket world in shock over Rudi Koertzen's death
Cricket South Africa chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said: "The passing of this titan is a sad loss for the game."
Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar, who has since surpassed Koertzen’s record for most international matches officiated, described Koertzen’s death as “a very big loss”.
"I stood in so many games with him," said Dar.
"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."
Fellow South African Marais Erasmus described Koertzen as "a strong character, physically and mentally."
Erasmus said of Koertzen: “He paved the way for South African umpires to get to the world stage and made us all believe it's possible. A true legend. As a young umpire, I learnt a lot from him.”
Former Sri Lanka star and former president of MCC Kumar Sangakkara described Koertzen in a tweet as “a wonderful friend and umpire. Honest, forthright and loved the game.”
Former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag described how Koertzen would scold him if he played a rash shot, telling him: “Play sensibly, I want to watch your batting.”
Koertzen was a keen golfer, who maintained a single figure handicap until the time of his death.
The South African team, in England for a Test series starting next week, wore black armbands in his memory on the first day of a match against England Lions in Canterbury on Tuesday.
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
Such sad news hearing the passing of umpire Rudi Koertzen. One of the gentlemen of the sport 🏏 RIP Oom Rudi.
— Jacques Kallis (@jacqueskallis75) August 9, 2022
Vale Rudi Koertzen ! Om Shanti. Condolences to his family.
Had a great relation with him. Whenever I used to play a rash shot, he used to scold me saying, “Play sensibly, I want to watch your batting”.
One he wanted to buy a particular brand of cricket pads for his son (cont) pic.twitter.com/CSxtjGmKE9
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 9, 2022
R. I. P Rudi Koertzen.
The BCCI mourns the loss of one of the finest umpires to have officiated the game of cricket. pic.twitter.com/44Ztdhiioe
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 9, 2022
Really sad to hear about the passing away of former umpire Rudi Koertzen. He was one of the sharpest and finest umpires that we've seen. My deepest condolences to his family. RIP Rudi. pic.twitter.com/vxfZ3z4BcH
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) August 9, 2022
— 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
Terrible news out of South Africa today
Former international umpire Rudi Koertzen has passed away
Awful for all his loved ones
Thoughts with them all
RIP Rudi 😢
— Natalie Germanos 🏏 (@NatalieGermanos) August 9, 2022
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