Rudolf Eric Koertzen
March 26, 1949, Knysna, Cape Province
August 09, 2022, Riversdale, (aged 73y 136d)
Rudi Koerzten was a modern umpire in the traditional mould, with an image that was a curious blend of old and new - his flat white cap offset by a pair of wraparound shades that rarely left his face except in the poorest of conditions - while his trademark was a dalek-like, super slow raise of the fatal finger to exterminate a batters' innings.
A lifelong fan of the game, Koerzten played league cricket while working as a clerk on the South African railways, but soon turned his hand to umpiring in 1981. He first stood in a Test at the age of 43, in Gqeberha (then Port Elizabeth) in 1992-93, the first series in which TV replays were used to judge run-out decisions. Appointed as a full-time ICC umpire in 1997 - and a member of the elite panel in 2002 - he left little to chance by putting in regular sessions in the gym, as well as long hours in front of the TV studying the techniques - and previous dismissals - of the batters at his mercy.
In September 1999, he was praised for his swift refusal of a bribe prior to the Coca-Cola Cup final between West Indies and India in Singapore, and four months later he was once again at the sharp end of the match-fixing crisis, when he stood in the now-infamous Centurion Test between South Africa and England. In April 2007 he stood in the World Cup final in Barbados, but the farcical finale of that match - and his role in misinterpreting the rules regarding bad light - led to his suspension for the World Twenty20 in September.
Koerzten was not immune to the pressures of the job, and in 2000-01 his errors contributed to one of the most fractious matches of modern times, the second Test between Sri Lanka and England at Kandy. Nevertheless, he retained the respect of the players, and an enthusiasm that enabled him to spend more than 240 days of the year away from his wife and four children. In 2007 he broke David Shepherd's record of standing in 172 ODIs. By the time he was done in July 2010, he held the record for the most international matches stood in by an umpire - 331 across formats.
Umpire & Referee