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Rudi Koertzen – the legendary umpire who told Sehwag to play sensibly

Rudi Koertzen was the TV umpire for the finals of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups of 2003 and 2007 (Image courtesy: Cricket South Africa)

Tributes continue to pour in for former international cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen, who succumbed to injuries following a car accident in South Africa on Tuesday.

Koertzen, 73, officiated in 331 international matches in a career stretching from 1992 to 2010. He was also the first umpire to stand in 200 ODIs and the second after Steve Bucknor to stand in 100 Tests.

"Rudi was among the best umpires of his generation and one players had utmost respect for. He officiated in international games for close to two decades and the ICC relied on him for some big matches during this period," said ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice on Wednesday. 

"Rudi was also very popular among his contemporaries and always willing to help. His contribution to cricket will be remembered for years to come. We send our condolences to his family and friends at his tragic death," he added.

Born on 26 March 1949 in Knysna, Western Cape province, Koertzen made his Test debut in 1992 in the Boxing Day Test match between South Africa and India at Port Elizabeth. He went on to enjoy an 18-year career at top-level umpiring in which he stood in 108 Tests, a record 209 ODIs and 14 T20Is, achieving the revered international status of ICC’s Emirates Elite Panel umpire. 

Famed for his slow arm raise to give out batters, Koertzen singled out standing in the opening match of the 1999 World Cup between England and Sri Lanka as his fondest memory.

"Rudi departs at the time when cricket is beginning to enjoy the fruit of his toil. His passing has robbed us of a giant upon his foundation we now stand. While this is a sad day for cricket in South Africa, we are however comforted by the many lessons of servitude and servant leadership he has left behind for us to embody and emulate," said Cricket South Africa Board Chairperson Lawson Naidoo.

Koertzen was the TV umpire for the finals of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups of 2003 and 2007 and an on-field umpire for the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy tournaments in 2004 and 2006.  He was also the fourth umpire for the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2010 in Bridgetown.

He announced his decision to retire from umpiring on June 4 in 2010 and stood in his final ODI on 9 June 2010, between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at Harare, and in his final Test from 21–24 July 2010, between Pakistan and Australia at Leeds.

Koertzen was one of the original members of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires when it was formed in 2002, is third in the list of Test umpires in terms of number of match appointments, having officiated in 108 matches. He is second in the list for ODIs with 209 matches and stood in 14 T20Is.

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