Umpires no longer required to give ‘soft signal’ after ICC makes multiple tweaks to playing conditions

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday introduced several changes to their playing conditions, the most prominent of which was doing away with the on-field umpire’s soft signal during referrals.

According to an official release from the ICC, the recommendations, which were proposed by the Men’s Cricket Committee led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly and endorsed by the Women’s Cricket Committee, were formally ratified by the Chief Executives Committee on Monday.

The new rules state that umpires will no longer have to give a soft signal while referring decisions to the TV umpire. Umpires were, until now, required to give a soft signal when it came referring catches that were difficult to judge on field; the TV umpire would then rule in favour of the soft signal if replays weren’t conclusive enough.

“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 since referrals of catches may seem inconclusive in replays,” Ganguly was quoted as saying in the release.

Besides doing away with the soft signal rule, the ICC also made the use of helmets mandatory for batters facing fast bowlers and for wicketkeepers when standing close to the stumps — which also extended to other fielders standing close to the batter such as silly point and short leg.

“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,” added Ganguly, who until recently had served as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president.

The third change introduced in the rule had to do with runs scored off a Free Hit, wherein “any runs scored off a Free Hit when the ball hits the stumps will count as runs scored, to be consistent with all other runs scored from a free hit.”

The release further stated that the changes would come into effect from 1 June on the opening day of the one-off Test between England and Ireland at Lord’s.

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