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Renowned cricket umpire dies after crash

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Former South African cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen died on Tuesday following a car crash. He was 73.

Cricket South Africa announced Koertzen’s death but gave no details of the accident, other than to say the renowned umpire died following a car accident on Tuesday morning.

The crash also claimed the lives of three others.

Koertzen stood in 108 Tests, a record 209 one-day internationals and 14 T20s over an 18-year career.

His first Test was during South Africa’s return to international cricket at home in 1992, after a 22-year ban because of apartheid. He retired in 2010.

Koertzen was famous for his unique method of giving a batter out, where he’d slowly raise his left arm with his finger pointing at the batter.

It became known as the “slow finger of death.” He was one of cricket’s most respected umpires.

“Every umpire has their trademark and that was mine … There is a story behind it,” Koertzen said in one interview.

“When my umpiring career first began, I used to hold my hands in front of me and every time there was an appeal, I would fold them against my ribs.

“Then someone told me ‘Rudi, you cannot do that. Every time you raise your hands to fold them, the bowler thinks you are going to give him a wicket’.

“So I started clasping my wrists at the back. The finger comes out slowly because it takes time for me to release my grasp at the back.”

Cricket South Africa chief executive Pholetsi Moseki paid tribute to Koertzen’s “selfless dedication and commitment.”

“The passing of this titan is a sad loss for the game,” he said.

South Africa’s Algoa FM radio station reported that Koertzen and three other people were killed in a head-on collision near the town of Riversdale in the Western Cape province.

Koertzen was returning to his home in the Eastern Cape province after playing in a golf tournament when the crash happened, the station said.

The South African team will wear black armbands on Wednesday in honour of Koertzen when it begins a Test match against England at Lord’s.

-with AAP

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