Rudi Koertzen: record-setting umpire

16 July 2009

South African cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen has enjoyed a long and successful career. His longevity in the sport has helped him to a number of records; recently he became the first umpire to stand in 200 one-day internationals. He also became the second man to do the double of 100 one-day internationals and 100 tests when he took to the field in the second Ashes test at Lords on Thursday.

On Saturday, 11 July, Koertzen reached the 200 one-day international (ODI) milestone when he stood in the second ODI between Ireland and Kenya in Dublin. To mark the occasion, Koertzen received a trophy from Cricket Ireland President Arthur Vince on behalf of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He made his debut over 16 years earlier in a match between South Africa and India in Port Elizabeth on 9 December 1992. His first test match took place later that month, also in Port Elizabeth, with South Africa and India once more the two teams in action. Koertzen, now 60, was 43 years of age at the time.

By 1997 he was a full-time ICC umpire, and in 2002 he was elected to the ICC’s Elite Panel. He has umpired in three World Cups: in 1999, 2003, and 2007.

A model professional

Koertzen is a model professional – keeps fit with regular gym visits and employs modern technology to help refine his game by studying batsmen, their techniques, and their previous dismissals on television.

Highly respected around the world, Koertzen is known for his deliberate and slow raising of the finger when giving batsmen out. Never does his finger shoot up. It has become his trademark and is commonly referred to as the “slow death”.

Reflecting on his achievement of becoming the first man to umpire 200 one-day internationals on the Cricket South Africa website, Koertzen said: “For someone who started umpiring very late in life, it is a huge personal achievement and a dream come true. It is really a great and satisfying feeling to achieve something as massive as this one.

Continuing, he added: “It has been exciting 17 years in the business, one that many would envy, I”m sure. Every job has highs and lows and umpiring is no exception.

‘A privilege’

“Umpiring provided me the opportunity to travel country to country, meet amazing people, understand different cultures, but most importantly it was a privilege to see young talent of yesterday become stalwarts of today.”

Looking back on the evolution of the game during his time as an international umpire, Koertze said: “While the sport has changed, so have the Laws over the years, I think for the better for the game. I think cricket of today is far more entertaining, challenging, demanding and competitive for the players, organisers and spectators than it was few years ago.

“All in all, it has been a very rewarding and a fascinating journey, something that I should be proud of,” he concluded.

‘Passion and hard work’

ICC President David Morgan paid tribute to Koertzen, saying: “Rudi’s achievement is by no means a small one and is a result of his tremendous dedication, commitment and fitness. Umpiring is something he wanted to do and his achievements reflect that he has done it with passion and hard work.

“It’s a matter of great honour for the ICC itself that one of its umpires has reached this landmark. On behalf of the ICC, I would like to congratulate Rudi for serving our great game through his umpiring and being a role model and inspiration for many young up and coming umpires.”

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