One of the rule changes that may be implemented during the crucial Test match between Australia and India is the elimination of the soft-signal.
The final of the 2023 World Test Championship between Australia and India could not use the soft-signal anymore. The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee, chaired by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, is said to have adopted the regulation, which has frequently proven contentious and sparked intense discussion. The Final, which will be contested between India and Australia at The Oval in London from June 7 to 12, is expected to include it in the playing conditions.
In order to determine whether the ball carried to a fielder after a catch is taken, the soft-signal rule requires the on-field umpires to make their own determination before consulting the third umpire. The television umpire can only reverse a soft-signal after the on-field umpire has given it if there is adequate video replay evidence to support it. A “Soft Signal is the visual communication by the bowler’s end umpire to the third umpire (accompanied, where necessary, by additional information via two-way radio) of his/her initial on-field decision prior to initiating an Umpire Review” according to ICC regulations.
The regulation also specifies that the bowler’s end umpire must first make a judgement on the field after speaking with the striker’s end umpire before speaking with the third umpire through two-way radio if both on-field umpires need help. The third umpire will then commence the consultation by giving the bowler’s end umpire a soft signal of out or not out by creating the shape of a TV screen with his or her hands at chest height. The judgement made on the pitch and announced at the beginning of the consultation procedure shall stand if the third umpire recommends that the replay evidence is inconclusive.
This has regularly irritated players and pundits since it means that the on-field umpires’ decisions are significantly influenced by what they can physically see. “ICC should do away with the soft signal and let the third umpire, who is equipped with all the equipment, to make the call when the on-field umpires send it upstairs, as the argument invariably centres on the soft signal issued. In response to a contentious choice made by Marnus Labuschagne during an Australia-South Africa Test earlier this year, England Test captain Ben Stokes had stated, “This isn’t a comment on the decision FYI (sic)”.
The usage of floodlights throughout the game is another important consideration if there is insufficient natural light. There will be a reserve sixth day for the game this year like there was in the 2021 WTC final. The first 2021 final between India and New Zealand was severely hindered by weather at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, and ultimately used the reserve day. New Zealand defeated India by seven wickets to win the first-ever Test world championship.