Rudolf Eric “Rudi” Koertzen is a former international cricket umpire from South Africa. He was born on 26th March 1949 and hails from the town of Knysna in the Western Cape, South Africa. Infamous for his very slow raising of the index finger to indicate the batsman was out, it was often dubbed as the slow death. Koertzen holds the record for the most number of ODIs officiated as an umpire and is a respected figure in cricket.
A lifelong cricket, he was an enthusiast even as a youth. He played league cricket in Kimberley while working as a clerk for the South African Railways. He was an aspiring medium-pace bowler, but soon he realised that he did not have what it takes to make it up to the provincial level. So he instead sat for the umpires’ exam, and went on to officiate his first first first-class game ten weeks later, between Griqualand West and Western Province B.
Initially, it was a very difficult situation for Koertzen as a cricket umpire because South Africa was undergoing a sporting isolation, which didn’t cease until 1991, which meant that Koertzen had to wait for 11 years to officiate in his first international game, who became an umpire in the year 1981.
His first international game was the 2nd ODI game of India’s tour of South Africa, on 9th December 1992. He made his Test debut in the very same series on the Boxing Day of 1992.
Koertzen became a full-time ICC umpire in 1997. He had the privilege of being one of the original members of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires when it was founded in 2002.
He officiated in both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, while also standing in the infamous 2005 Ashes Series which was won by the England cricket team for the first time since 1989.
He has officiated 108 Tests, 209 ODIs and 14 T20I matches.
He came under the fire for his decisions in the Test Match between Sri Lanka and England in March 2001, where he made a couple of very obvious mistakes.
He then came under the wrong spotlight, officiating in the 2007 World Cup final, where his misinterpretation of the rules saw him banned from officiating the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 the same year.
Koertzen retired from international umpiring on 24th July 2010, with his last match being the final Test between Pakistan and Australia at Leeds.