Legendary cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen has passed away in a car accident while driving from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape in South Africa. Koertzen’s son, Rudi Koertzen jr, confirmed the news, stating that his father was returning home to Despatch after playing golf on the weekend.
“He went on a golf tournament with some of his friends, and they were expected to come back on Monday, but it seems they decided to play another round of golf,” Koertzen Jr told Algoa FM News – a South African website.
Notably, Koertzen was part of the ICC’s elite panel of umpires for eight years from 2002 and officiated in 331 international matches. Koertzen was a popular umpire amongst the cricketers and fans across the world, especially for his unique style. He went by the nickname ‘Slow Death’ because he had a style of taking some time to raise his finger while giving a batter out.
No wonder the tragic death of Koertzen, aged 73, has hit the cricket community hard, and a host of players – past and present – took to social media to express their sadness, admiration and sympathies.
Former India opener Virender Sehwag wrote a heartwarming note on social media and paid his condolences to Koertzen’s family. Sehwag also shared an anecdote about when he had gifted cricket pads to Koertzen’s son.
“Vale Rudi Koertzen! Om Shanti. Condolences to his family. Had a great relation with him. Whenever I used to play a rash shot, he used to scold me, saying, “Play sensibly, I want to watch your batting”.,” Sehwag wrote on Twitter.
“Once, he wanted to buy a particular brand of cricket pads for his son and enquired about it from me. I gifted him, and he was so grateful. A gentleman and a very wonderful person. Will miss you, Rudi. Om Shanti,” he added.
And enquired about it from me. I gifted him and he was so grateful . A gentleman and a very wonderful person. Will miss you Rudi. Om Shanti pic.twitter.com/gdSHGOoYg8
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 9, 2022
Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh termed Koertzen one of the finest umpires the game has witnessed while paying tribute to him.
“Tragic news of the sudden passing away of Rudi Koertzen. He was a gifted individual and one of the finest umpires the game has witnessed, known for his sharp decision making abilities. My deepest condolences to his family and well wishers #RudiKoertzen,” tweeted Yuvraj.
Tragic news of the sudden passing away of Rudi Koertzen. He was a gifted individual and one of the finest umpires the game has witnessed, known for his sharp decision making abilities.
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) August 9, 2022
Popular broadcaster Alan Wilkins took to Twitter and wrote: “Have just heard tragic news out of South Africa that former ICC Test Umpire, Rudi Koertzen, has died in a car accident, aged 73. Rudi was such a personality in the game and an outstanding umpire. Thoughts with Rudi’s family right now. RIP Rudi Koertzen.”
Have just heard tragic news out of South Africa that former ICC Test Umpire, Rudi Koertzen, has died in a car accident, aged 73. Rudi was such a personality in the game and an outstanding umpire. Thoughts with Rudi's family right now. RIP Rudi Koertzen.
— Alan Wilkins (@alanwilkins22) August 9, 2022
Here is how others reacted:
Really sad to hear about the passing away of former umpire Rudi Koertzen. He was one of the sharpest and finest umpires that we've seen. My deepest condolences to his family. RIP Rudi. pic.twitter.com/vxfZ3z4BcH
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) August 9, 2022
— Waqar Younis (@waqyounis99) August 9, 2022
Saddened at the tragic loss of Rudi Koertzen. What a wonderful friend and umpire. Honest, forthright and loved the game. Shared many a beer at the bar talking cricket with him. RIP my friend.
— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) August 9, 2022
Saddened to know about the sudden demise of umpire Rudi Koertzen he was , forthright and knowledgeable umpire had shared some wonderful moments with him on and off the field . My deepest condolences to the family. RIP .
— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) August 9, 2022
MCC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Honorary Life Member and former umpire, Rudi Koertzen.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/A4y0oCxLpl
— Marylebone Cricket Club (@MCCOfficial) August 9, 2022
Was a terrific umpire. Rest in peace, Rudi Koertzen. We will miss you. https://t.co/WmaB1sE4JC
— ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಣೇಶ್ | Dodda Ganesh (@doddaganesha) August 9, 2022
Your childhood as a cricket fan would be incomplete if you hadn't imitated Rudi Koertzen's slow finger raise 💙
Rest in peace, Rudi. pic.twitter.com/HHXxmmN3rQ
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) August 9, 2022
One of cricket's most iconic umpires is no more. 💔
Our prayers are with the family and friends of Rudi Koertzen.
May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/m31IPykyz5
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) August 9, 2022
Rudi Koertzen dies aged 73 years. A top umpire, he had followed cricket first as a league player while being a clerk with South Africa Railways. Starting his umpiring career in 1981, he retired in 2010. He umpired in 108 Tests, 209 ODIs & 14 T20 Internationals. RIP pic.twitter.com/l3L4rwSaMN
— Dr. Nauman Niaz (@DrNaumanNiaz) August 9, 2022
Just read about the passing away of Rudi Koertzen in a car crash . Certainly one of the top Umpires to have appeared on international scene . Thoughts and prayers with the family .
— Salman Butt (@im_SalmanButt) August 9, 2022
RIP Rudi Koertzen 💔
The umpire has sadly passed at the age of 73 and will be remembered for his iconic 'slow finger' 👆 pic.twitter.com/mFry06XOaP
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) August 9, 2022