Who was Rudi Koertzen?
- Retired umpire Rudi Koertzen died in a car crash
- He was returning home from a golfing weekend in Cape Town
- The South African holds the record for most ODIs officiated
Retired cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen died in a tragic car crash near Riversdale in South Africa. The 73-year-old was returning home from a golfing weekend in Capetown. The crash also claimed the lives of his friends who were accompanying him. The legendary South African first officiated in 1981, becoming an international umpire eleven years later when India toured South Africa. His last stint in the middle came in the Leeds test between Australia and Pakistan in July 2010.
Knysna-born Koertzen was among the best in the business, officiating in over 100 tests (108), a record 209 ODIs and 15 T20Is. He was among three umpires to have stood in over 150 ODIs, surpassing Englishman David Shepherd (172) and Jamaican Steve Bucknor (181) during his long career. Known as 'Slow Death' -for his patient, almost interminable manner in which his finger rose- he graced several high-profile clashes. A regular in India-Pakistan fixtures (his 150th ODI was one), Ashes series' and crunch matches across World Cups- semi-finals and finals, Koertzen was among ICC's Elite Panel of adjudicators.
However, he came under fire for misinterpreting rules regarding bad-light during the 2007 World Cup final. A rain-truncated affair, the match ended in near darkness as Sri Lanka fell short of their revised score. As a result, the ICC overlooked Koertzen from its panel of umpires for the inaugural T20 World Cup. An unbending man, he refused hefty bribes for fixing the final of the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge between India and West Indies in 2000. He was also one of the umpires in the infamous 2000 Centurion test involving South Africa and England. After heavy rains had lashed across Gauteng, captains Hansie Cronje and Mike Atherton- provoked by the former- forfeited their first innings, setting up an enthralling finish. Widely acclaimed as a bold move at the time, it later emerged that Cronje was working under the influence of bookmakers.
Koertzen was the first umpire to win all three ICC awards- Bronze Bails for 100 ODIs, Silver Bails for 200 ODIs and Golden Bails for 100 tests. Only Pakistan's Aleem Dar has repeated the feat. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.