Aditya Iyer

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Story behind Rudi’s ‘slow finger of death’

Although he will still be seen in two more Test matches in England next month, the curtains have come down on Rudi Koertzen's era. The 61-year old speaks to the Indian Express about his memorable moments, his signature dismissal trait and his future plans.

Having officiated in 209 ODIs and 106 Tests, South African umpire Rudi Koertzen decided to call it a day after the tri-series final between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka on Wednesday.


Although he will still be seen in two more Test matches in England next month, the curtains have come down on Koertzen's era.  The 61-year old speaks to the Indian Express about his memorable moments, his signature dismissal trait and his future plans. Excerpts.


How would you look back on your 18-year career?


I'm happy at the moment that a long and successful career has come to an end. But I know that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will be a sad man. I almost know nothing else outside cricket. When I used to go home after cricket matches, I used to switch on the television to watch some more, that's how close it has been to my heart. But I am also satisfied that I have come through without too many blemishes. It's both a sad and happy moment for me.


Are you looking forward to your last two Test matches?


It is in less than a month and I do not know how inspired I will be to officiate in them, because after that there is nothing to look forward to. I will play a lot of golf I guess and go on trips on my fishing boat.


What are your plans after complete retirement?


I will work with some of the younger umpires back in South Africa. Youngsters aren't accepted so easily into our profession and my aim is to change that. When umpires who are not of the standard age walk into the cricket field, their flaws are noticed a lot more. The cricketers abuse them for their decisions even if they are trying their best. I will get in touch with the South African cricket board and see if them is a role for me to play in conditioning umpires for the future.


Is the DRS a hurdle for umpires?


I am a firm believer in the DRS. At the end of the day, it allows you to take a better look at your decisions and also works towards making the game error free, which is important.


Did you intentionally prolong the lifting of the finger when a batsman was out?


Every umpire has their trademark, that was mine. The media labeled it the 'slow finger of death', I found that pretty interesting. There's a story behind it though. 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 it against my ribs. The someone told me "Rudi, you can't do that, every time you raise your hands to fold it, the bowler thinks you're 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.

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