The Daily Telegraph

Popular internatio­nal cricket umpire known as ‘Slow Death’


RUDI KOERTZEN, who has died in a car crash aged 73, was an internatio­nal cricket umpire renowned for his slow and deliberate way of raising his left finger when giving a batter out; it earned him the nickname “Slow Death”.

It was the South African batsman Daryll Cullinan who coined it when he asked Koertzen: “Why do you make me suffer and wait for that slow-death decision?”

Despite never having played beyond club level, between 1992 and 2010 Koertzen enjoyed an illustriou­s career at the pinnacle of the world game. He officiated in 331 internatio­nal matches – a record when he retired – and was one of the few umpires to have appeared in more than 100 Tests.

Of Dutch descent, the youngest of three children, Rudolf Eric Koertzen was born on March 26 1949 at Knysna in Cape Province, South Africa, where his father Josef was a truck driver with the railways; his mother, Maria, worked in a shoe factory.

The family moved to Despatch, where he was educated. Excelling at sport, notably rugby and cricket, he followed his father on to the railways as a joinery apprentice and later worked in the constructi­on industry.

As a cricketer Koertzen played for Kimberley and the De Beers club as a right-arm medium-pace bowler who once took all 10 wickets in an innings.

As his playing career wound down, he turned to umpiring. Quickly impressing with his ability to read a game, he was soon officiatin­g at provincial level. He made his first class debut in 1987 as Griqualand took on Western Province, and with South Africa banned at the time from internatio­nal competitio­n, Koertzen honed his skills on the many visiting rebel tours.

Exuding a natural authority, he quickly became a popular figure. This, together with a slightly serious but considered commonsens­e approach, meant that players always appreciate­d his efforts.

Self-deprecatin­g, unlike many of his colleagues, he was always willing to apologise to a batsman if he felt he had made a mistake. And his dry humour was capable of defusing volatile situations.

With South Africa re-admitted to the global game in 1991, Koertzen made his internatio­nal debut in the one-day encounter between South Africa and India at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, in December 1992. A few weeks later, on Boxing Day, again in Port Elizabeth, he officiated in his first Test match.

Having made his Lord’s debut in July 1999, almost exactly 20 years on, as England took on Australia in that year’s combative Ashes series, it was at HQ that he clocked up his 100th Test – a week after his 200th one-day internatio­nal, in Dublin.

By the end of 2001, with 10 top-level seasons under his belt, Koertzen was promoted to the Internatio­nal Cricket Council’s Elite Panel of internatio­nal umpires. His final One Day Internatio­nal (ODI) was between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at Harare in June 2010, and his final Test was Pakistan v Australia at Headingley in July 2010.

In all, he took charge of 108 Tests, 209 ODIS and 14 T20 internatio­nals. He officiated at the 1999, 2003 and 2007 World Cups, the 2002, 2004 and 2006 Champions Trophy and the World T20 championsh­ips in 2009, as well as the 2004 one-day charity game in Melbourne for the victims of that year’s tsunami.

Retiring from internatio­nal duties in 2010, he published an entertaini­ng autobiogra­phy, Slow Death: Memoirs of a Cricket Umpire. He stood in the Indian Premier Cricket League in 2011, and that year he was appointed as the ICC’S regional performanc­e manager for Africa. With time to relax, when not on the golf course refining his golf swing, he was able to spend many hours fishing.

Rudi Koertzen is survived by his wife, and by two daughters and two sons.

Rudi Koertzen, born March 26 1949, died August 9 2022

 ?? ?? Umpired more than 100 Tests
Umpired more than 100 Tests

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