Warne pressure a class apart says Koertzen
Being an umpire when Australia leg-spin great Shane Warne was at your end was something special said Rudi Koertzen as he became only the second official to stand in 100 Tests.cricket Updated: Jul 16, 2009 22:34 IST
Being an umpire when Australia leg-spin great Shane Warne was at your end was something special said Rudi Koertzen as he became only the second official to stand in 100 Tests.
The South African reached the landmark when he took to the middle for the second Ashes Test between England and Australia here at Lord's on Thursday, with retired West Indies official Steve Bucknor the only other umpire to bring up a Test hundred.
"I have always admired fast bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Allan Donald but the bowler who stands out is Shane Warne," Koertzen said in a statement issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC). "He used to get the best out of the umpires by putting a lot of pressure on them.
"On numerous occasions, he bowled from my end and I have always found him testing my decision-making," he added of Warne, who retired from Test cricket after Australia's 5-0 whitewash of England in 2006/07.
"Like every umpire, I had to concentrate extremely hard when he was bowling because he had so much variety and variation that every ball he bowled was potentially a wicket-taking delivery."
Koertzen added that India's Sachin Tendulkar and West Indies' Brian Lara had been the most outstanding batsmen during his time in the middle.
"They had amazing reflexes and used to pick up the ball as soon as it left the bowler's hand," Koertzen recalled.
"However, the individual innings I can't forget was by Adam Gilchrist when he scored 204 (with 19 fours and eight sixes) against South Africa at The Wanderers in February 2002. It was the most ruthless display of stroke-play I have seen to date. It was an amazing experience."
When it came to Test series, Koertzen said the 2005 Ashes, which England won 2-1, was in a class of its own.
"I was involved in the Test at Lord's, Birmingham and The Oval. England's victory by two runs at Birmingham was probably the most thrilling and nerve-wrecking Test I have been involved with.
"I don't think a Test series can get any closer than the 2005 Ashes series."
The 60-year-old Koertzen made his international debut on December 9 1992 in a match between South Africa and India in Port Elizabeth and has become well-known around the world for the considered 'slow death' style with which he gives batsmen out.
But his career has had some controversial moments, notably when, as a reserve official, he was singled out by match referee Jeff Crowe - also officiating at Lord's this week - for misreading the rules regarding bad light when the 2007 World Cup final in Barbados as he match continued in near darkness after champions Australia had already 'beaten' Sri Lanka.
Koertzen, a former railways clerk in South Africa, insisted he had no intention of retiring as an umpire in the near future.
"I still have the fire in my belly to improve, umpire in more matches and continue to enjoy the sport which has given me respect and recognition."
Most Test apperances by an umpire (as at July 16, 2009):
128 Steve Bucknor (WIS)
100 Rudi Koertzen (RSA)
92 David Shepherd (ENG)
83 Daryl Harper (AUS)
78 Darrell Hair (AUS)
73 Srinivasaraghan Venkataraghan (IND)
66 Dickie Bird (ENG)
58 Simon Taufel (AUS)
56 Aleem Dar (PAK)
54 Billy Bowden (NZL)