ICC scraps controversial ‘soft signals’

'Soft signals' will no longer be in used from 1 June 2023AFP

Cricket chiefs on Monday announced they are scrapping the contentious “soft signal” rule and making helmets mandatory for wicketkeepers standing close to the stumps.

The changes, ratified by the International Cricket Council chief executives’ committee, will come into effect on 1 June with the Lord’s Test between England and Ireland.

“Umpires will no longer be required to give a soft signal while referring decisions to the TV umpires,” the ICC said in a statement.

“The on-field umpires will consult with the TV umpire before any decisions are taken.”

A soft signal is the “visual communication” by an on-field umpire of his or her initial verdict before the input of the third umpire, who has access to video replays.

One concern has been that the soft signal might influence the final decision of the third umpire.

England captain Ben Stokes earlier this year called for soft signals to be scrapped.

“ICC should get rid off the soft signal and let the 3rd umpire who has all the technology to make the decision when the on-field umpires send it upstairs,” he tweeted. “All the controversy is always around the soft signal given.”

Under the new ICC rules, helmet protection will be mandatory in international cricket for high-risk positions, including batters acing fast bowlers and wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps.

Sourav Ganguly, chairman of the ICC cricket committee, said, “Soft signals have been discussed at previous cricket committee meetings over the last couple of years.

“The committee deliberated this at length and concluded that soft signals were unnecessary and at times confusing.”

The former India captain added, “We also discussed player safety, which is very important for us. The committee decided that it was best to make the use of helmets mandatory in certain positions to ensure the safety of players.”