No soft signal in IPL 2021

After approval by the IPL Governing Council, the BCCI has made it clear that an on-field umpire will not be allowed to give soft signals while referring a decision to the third umpire.

Mumbai Indians batsman Kieron Pollard in a conversation with on-field umpires during the IPL 2019 final against Chennai Super Kings in Hyderabad.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.R. DEEPAK

Over the last few weeks, many in the cricketing world have called for an end to the practice of on-field umpires offering a ‘soft signal’ to the third umpire while addressing a debatable decision.

And ahead of the Indian Premier League, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has made it clear that an on-field umpire will not be allowed to give soft signals while referring a decision to the third umpire. After approval by the Governing Council, the board has updated the Appendix D - Clause 2.2.2 - of the Match Playing Conditions. The franchises have been informed that the ‘soft signal has been removed.’

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Previously, the Match Playing rules stated that “should both on-field umpires require assistance from the third umpire to make a decision, the bowler’s end umpire shall firstly take a decision on-field after consulting with the striker’s end umpire, before consulting by two-way radio with the third umpire. Such consultation shall be initiated by the bowler’s end umpire to the third umpire by making the shape of a TV screen with his/her hands, followed by a Soft Signal of Out or Not out made with the hands close to the chest at chest height. If the third umpire advises that the replay evidence is inconclusive, the onfield decision communicated at the start of the consultation process shall stand.”

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But in the updated clause, the soft signal has been removed to ensure a fair judgment by the third umpire.

According to the International Cricket Council rules, a soft signal is a visual communication by the bowler’s end umpire to the third umpire of his initial on-field decision prior to initiating an umpire review. On Thursday, during the ICC Board meeting, BCCI secretary Jay Shah told the other members that a change in on-field umpire’s protocol around soft signals was needed.

The soft signal issue has been in news ever since Suryakumar Yadav’s dismissal in the fourth T20I between India and England in Ahmedabad. Yadav was caught in deep by Dawid Malan off a Sam Curran delivery. While it was not clear whether it was a clean take by Malan, third umpire Virender Sharma upheld the on-field umpire’s ‘soft signal’ citing lack of conclusive evidence.

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20th over included in the 90 minutes

There has also been a change in the Minimum Over Rates system. Previously, the Match Playing Conditions suggested that “the minimum over rate to be achieved in IPL Matches shall be 14.11 overs per hour (ignoring the time taken by time-outs). In uninterrupted matches, this means that the 20th over should start within 90 minutes (being 85 minutes of playing time plus 5 minutes of time-out) of the start of the innings. For delayed or interrupted matches where an innings is scheduled to be less than 20 overs, the maximum time of 90 minutes shall be reduced by 4 minutes 15 seconds for every over by which the innings is reduced.”

According to Clause 12.7.1 in the new guidelines, the “20th over is included in the 90 minutes.”

Short runs

According to the new guidelines, in the case of the short run, the third umpire checks the short run and can overturn the decision made by the on-field umpires.

Earlier, Clause 18.5.1 suggested that “if either umpire considers that one or both batsmen deliberately ran short at that umpire’s end, the umpire concerned shall, when the ball is dead, call and signal Short run and inform the other umpire of what has occurred and apply clause 18.5.2.”

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Updates in the MPC for the 2021 as compared to the 2020 edition

1. Clause 12.7.1 - 20th over is included in 90 minutes.

2. Clause 16.3.1 - In an uninterrupted match, subsequent super overs can be played till an hour’s time from the actual finished time of the tied matches.

3. Clause 18.4.6 -  In the case of the short run, the third umpire checks the short run and can overturn the decision made by the on-field umpires.

4. Clause 21.5.2 - Third Umpire can overrule the no-ball decision made by the on-field umpire.

5. Appendix A - Clause 5.10- Definition of the soft signal is removed.

6. Appendix D - Clause 2.2.2- Updated. Soft signal is removed.

7. Appendix F - Point number 25 is removed. (According to the Playing Conditions of 2020, Point number 25 stated - “In circumstances where there are unavoidable time constraints (for example, a requirement to switch off floodlights at a certain time) which do not allow the completion of multiple Super Over(s), the IPL Match Referee may limit the number of possible Super Overs and shall advise both captains accordingly prior to the start of the first Super Over).