The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to remove the controversial 'soft signal' rule for the upcoming edition of the Indian T20 League starting on April 9.
As per the updated playing conditions for the Indian T20 League 2021, the new rules state: "Soft Signal: Onfield Umpire giving Soft Signal while referring the decision to the 3rd Umpire will not be applicable."
The decision to remove the soft signal call is taken to ensure that the third umpire will be able to make the best decision possible without keeping in mind the umpire's call.
"There have been cases wherein the soft signal has kind of created confusion rather than giving clarity to the third umpire and that is why it was felt that going back to the old method of referring decisions to the third umpire if the on-field umpires are not sure should be followed," a source told ANI.
Speaking on the issue, India cricket team captain Virat Kohli had recently spoken about the soft call saying that one needs to question if the spirit of the game remains intact.
“There was an instance during the Test series when I was next to Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) and he clearly caught the ball but he wasn’t sure so we went upstairs. If it is a half and half effort and the fielder is in doubt, there is no way the umpire from square leg can see it clearly.
“The soft signal becomes that important and it becomes tricky. Where there should be conclusive proof? I don’t know why there can’t be an ‘I don’t know’ call with the umpires as well. It is similar to umpire’s call as well.
“These are decisions that can change the course of the game, especially in these big games. We were on the receiving side today, and tomorrow it could be some other team.”
He further added that the lack of clarity over the rules leaves a grey area in the game.
"So look, it is a serious thing which needs to be considered because there is a lot at stake in bigger tournaments. You do not want any grey area hampering the game and it leaves with you no clarity," he said.
There is also a major change in the updated guidelines as if there is a case of short run, then the third umpire can check whether it was a short run or not and the official can overturn the decision made by the on-field umpires.
“Short-run: 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,” states the updated playing conditions for IPL 2021.
This short-run point became a huge debating point last year in the match between Punjab and Delhi. The Punjab management also made an official complaint after they ended up on the losing side.
As a measure to control the match timings, the 20th over in each innings is now included in 90 minutes, earlier the 20th over was to start on or before the 90th minute.
In updated guidelines, now the third umpire can overrule the no-ball decision made by the on-field umpire. There is another updated clause in the playing conditions and it states that in an uninterrupted match, subsequent super overs can be played till an hour’s time from the actual finished time of the tied matches (Clause 16.3.1).
Feature image courtesy: IPL, BCCI 2021