Two dismissals during India vs England fourth T20I match, both in India’s innings, raised questions about the ‘soft signal’ in cricket. Both decisions were eventually taken after the TV umpire failed to provide conclusive evidence to overturn the on-field umpires’ soft signal call which was out. Suryakumar Yadav and Washington Sundar, who bore the brunt, of those soft signal calls would have felt hard done by the decisions. On both occasions, the soft signal from the on-field umpires sided with England and were declared as out but both times the batsmen, on replays, looked not-out.  Those calls raised debates and stormed social media with many, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, calling for ICC to scrap the ‘soft signal’ by the umpires. What exactly is then the ‘soft signal’? Dinesh Karthik, Virender Sehwag & Wasim Jaffer Hilariously Troll Third Umpire for Suryakumar Yadav’s Controversial Dismissal During IND vs ENG 4th T20I (Read Tweets).

The incidents involved Suryakumar and Sundar. First Suryakumar was given out to a dubious call and overs later Sundar was also adjudged out raising debates of the soft signal by the on-field umpires in cricket. Having smashed Sam Curran for a six over fine leg, Suryakumar pulled Curran again but this time top-edged it to square leg where Dawid Malan took a stunning diving catch. But unsure about whether Malan had taken the catch properly, on-field umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan referred it to the TV umpire Virender Sharma and gave the soft signal as ‘out’. Replays suggested that the ball had hit the turf as Malan was attempting to catch it but with no conclusive evidence to overturn the call, Sharma had to go with the on-field umpire’s call. Stuart Broad Reacts to Suryakumar Yadav’s Controversial Dismissal During IND vs ENG 4th T20I 2021, Says ‘David Malan’s Twitter Feed Will be Ugly’.

Third Umpire While Making Decisions?

On-field umpires’ call once again found itself on the headlines in the 20th over of India's innings, when Adil Rashid took a catch at deep third man to dismiss Sundar off Jofra Archer’s bowling. But no one in the field, including Rashid himself, was certain if he had stepped on the boundary rope while taking the catch. Once again the on-field umpires referred the call to the TV umpire but gave the soft-signal as ‘out’. Once again, although the decision appeared as contentious, TV umpire had no conclusive evidence to overturn it and adhered to the on-field umpires’ call.

What is a Soft Signal By the Umpire?

The soft signal is a call the on-field umpires takes when referring a contentious decision to the TV umpire asking the umpire to judge the legitimacy of a dismissal. As per protocols, the umpire at the bowler’s end gives a soft signal after consulting his colleague at the other end for the TV umpire to judge if the soft signal was right. But the rules state the TV umpire does not have the authority to overturn the on-field umpires’ call unless he/she has conclusive evidence to prove the soft signal was wrong.

What Former Cricketers Think?

Former India cricketers VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer lambasted the umpires for judging both Suryakumar and Sundar out despite no proper evidence if the catches were legitimately taken on both instances. Aakash Chopra felt the ‘soft signal’ should be scrapped.

"How can this be out. When you are not sure whether the ball was taken cleanly after watching so many replays using top class technology and still go by the soft signal given by the on-field umpire. I think this rule needs to be revisited and changed.," said Laxman.

How Can This Be Out?

Jaffer questioned in his tweet about the soft signal. He also tagged ICC in the post.

Why Soft Signal ICC?

Suryakumar, who was going guns and looking to take India past the 200-run mark, ended his knock for a 31-ball 57 while Sundar was out with two deliveries remaining in India's innings after making four runs off two balls. Their dismissals, however, had little effect as India went on to win the match by eight runs to level the series 2-2 and keep the series alive.

What India Captain Virat Kohli Said About 'Soft Signal'

An animated Virat Kohli also raised questions about the ‘soft signal’ call by the umpires at the post-match presentation. "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 added.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 19, 2021 09:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website