England cricketer Ben Stokes called out the use of soft signal in cricket while making decisions on dismissals and said that the third umpire should be the only one making the decision.
“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, all the controversy is always around the soft signal given,” Stokes said on Twitter.
The comment from Stokes comes after Marnus Labuschagne was controversially given not out during the third Test match between Australia and South Africa on Wednesday.
Labuschagne was caught at first slip during Australia’s first innings. Simon Harmer completed a low catch and the fielding team was convinced that Labuschagne was out. The on-field umpires referred the decision to the third umpire, with bowling end umpire, Paul Reiffel, giving the soft signal as out.
According to ICC’s playing conditions for World Test Championship 2021-23, “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.”
The third umpire, Richard Kettleborough, upon checking the replays, reversed the decision, and ruled the batter not out.
However, fans on social media complained that the replays did not have any conclusive evidence to overturn the call, or soft signal, by Reiffel.
The ICC’s rule 2.2.2 - Caught Decisions - says, “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.”
Soft signal has been in controversy lately. During England’s tour of Pakistan, Saud Shakeel was ‘soft signalled’ out by the on-field umpire Aleem Dar before referring to the third umpire.
England keeper Ollie Pope had completed a low catch and the third umpire stuck with the on-field call stating a lack of conclusive evidence to overturn the decision.
Fans were upset about the decision. Moreover, captain Babar Azam said the decision cost his side the match.