Johannesburg, Aug 9 (IANS): Cricket South Africa (CSA) has condoled the demise of former international umpire Rudi Koertzen, who died in a car accident on Tuesday.
The 73-year-old was on his way back home from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape, after a golf weekend when the tragic incident took place. Three others were also killed in the crash in the early morning hours in Riversdale.
Koertzen, who became an umpire in 1981, made his debut as an international umpire in 1992 during India's historic tour of South Africa.
In 1997, the South African was appointed as a full-time ICC umpire and was one of the first members of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. He was the TV Umpire in the 2003 and 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup finals and officiated in three Men's ODI World Cups.
After the 2010 Test match between Australia and Pakistan, he retired from international umpiring. He stood as the on-field umpire in 331 international matches, the most after Aleem Dar, and was also the TV umpire in 66 matches. He is also one of the only three umpires to stand in more than 200 ODIs.
"The passing of this titan is a sad loss for the game. Koertzen's contribution to Umpiring, to which he spent the better part of his life, speaks volumes about his selfless dedication and commitment," said Pholetsi Moseki, CSA Chief Executive Officer in a statement.
"With his demise, another curtain of a rich legacy has fallen, but will never be forgotten. In his honour, let's decree to embody his passion for umpiring and unearth a crop of umpires who will carry the fortunes of the game into the future," he added.
Koertzen won the ICC Bronze Bails Award for 100 ODIs, the ICC Silver Bails Award for 200 ODIs and the ICC Golden Bails Award for 100 Tests. He was the first umpire to stand in 200 ODIs and 100 Tests, a feat matched only by Aleem Dar to date.
"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," CSA Board Chairperson, Lawson Naidoo said.
"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. On behalf of the Cricket South Board, I send my sincere condolences to Rudi's family and the many people whom he has touched," he added.
The South African players are wearing black armbands in honour of him during their four-day game against England Lions in Canterbury.