In a crucial development, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that it will be eliminating the soft signal rule, effective from the World Test Championship (WTC) final on Monday. In addition, the ICC has made a few changes to its rulebook ahead of the highly anticipated summit clash between India & Australia, scheduled to start on June 7 at London’s The Oval.
The soft signal rule involves the on-field umpire making a tentative decision before referring it to the third umpire for review. However, if the replay is inconclusive, the original decision made by the on-field umpire stands. This rule has been criticized for leading to controversial decisions in the past.
In January 2023, a debatable moment occurred during a Test match between Australia and South Africa. South Africa’s Simon Harmer caught the ball to dismiss Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne, but the on-field umpire gave a soft signal of out. However, the third umpire ruled it not out due to inconclusive evidence in the replays. The incident raised questions about the accuracy of the soft signal rule, which has been under scrutiny recently.
Ben Stokes had requested the ICC to remove the soft signal rule after a match. He stated,
“ICC should get rid of the soft signal and let the 3rd umpire who has all the technology make the decision when the on-field umpires send it upstairs, all the controversy is always around the soft signal given. This isn’t a comment on the decision FYI (sic),”
The ICC has made additional changes to its rulebook ahead of the WTC final and Ashes 2023. In case of poor natural light, floodlights will be used, and teams will have a reserve day (sixth) in the one-off Test match.