After lengthy deliberation, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has officially decided to discontinue the usage of the soft signal rule in international matches.
Notably, the decision will take effect beginning with the upcoming ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 Final. The WTC final is set to take place on June 7 at the Oval in London between Australia and India.
The rule was agreed by the Sourav Ganguly-led committee and was sent to the WTC finalists, India and Australia. During a Test match between Australia and South Africa in January, the soft signal rule drew widespread attention.
This was due to the Marnus Labuschagnes controversial dismissal which initiated a debate.
Speaking briefly, South Africas Simon Harmer took a low catch and the on-field umpire assessed the soft signal as 'out'. However, after several replays, third umpire Richard Kettleborough changed the ruling and declared it 'not out', despite the lack of clear evidence.
"Soft Signal is the visual communication by the bowler's end umpire to the third umpire (accompanied by additional information via two-way radio where necessary) of his/her initial on-field decision prior to initiating an Umpire Review. If the third umpire advises that the replay evidence is inconclusive, the on-field decision communicated at the start of the consultation process shall stand,"
the ICC rule states.
This means that the soft signal requires the on-field umpire to make a decision (even if he is unsure) before communicating with the third umpire.
Furthermore, if and only if there is conclusive proof, the third umpire has the authority to overrule the decision, and they have the last say on questionable catches.
Aside from the significant change in on-field decision making, the apex council has determined that the flood lights at the venue can be turned on during the game if natural light is inadequate. Furthermore, the ICC agreed that one-off Test matches between teams will now have a reserve day (sixth) in place for the game to end.
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