Rudi Eric Koertzen was an international cricket umpire. A cricket enthusiast since his youth, he played league cricket while working as a clerk for South African Railways. He began umpiring in 1981, before becoming a full-time official eleven years later.
Rudi Koertzen: Accident| Death| Car accident| Slow finger
The cricket world has been paying tribute to Rudi Koertzen, the South African umpire famous for his long, slow finger of fate upon giving a player out, after he died in a car crash aged 73.
A hugely popular umpire on the global circuit, Koertzen officiated in 331 international matches during an 18-year career – a record at the time and one that has since been broken by Aleem Dar of Pakistan – before his retirement in 2010.
News of Koertzen’s death broke on Tuesday morning when South Africa’s men emerged for the first morning of their four-day warmup match against England Lions in Canterbury wearing black armbands.
“Koertzen’s status as a legend of the game will live on for ever,” Cricket South Africa said in a statement.
According to reports in South Africa, the former umpire was one of four people killed in a head-on collision while driving back from Cape Town to his home in Despatch, Eastern Cape, after a golf weekend with friends.
Dar, who like Koertzen is one of three ICC elite umpires to stand in more than 100 Tests, told ESPNCricinfo: “It is a very big loss foremost for his family and then for South Africa and cricket.
He became known as the ‘slow finger of death’ because he very slowly raising his finger whenever indicating a batsman was out.
“Every umpire has their trademark and that was mine. The media labelled it the ‘slow finger of death’ and I found that pretty interesting. There is a story behind it,” Koertzen said in an interview.