Veteran England pacer Stuart Broad wants the ICC to scrap the soft signal rule as he feels the system is not up to the mark and unnecessarily puts match officials in a “tricky position”.
Broad aired his views following a controversial decision involving New Zealand batsman Devon Conway on the second day of the second Test here on Friday.
Broad felt Conway was lucky not to have been dismissed on 22, after being caught at slip by Zak Crawley. But the on-field umpires referred the decision to the TV umpire, Michael Gough, with a soft signal of not out.
Equally uncertain, Gough went with the on-field umpires’ decision despite TV replays showing Crawley had his fingers under the ball. Conway cashed in on the chance and made 80, guiding New Zealand to a strong position.
“You can see from our reaction on the field that we thought it was out,” Broad told Sky Sports before the third day’s play on Saturday.
“Zak thought he had his fingers under the ball and you only have to look at Joe Root’s reaction at first slip and James Bracey’s reaction behind the stumps — who are a yard away from it — to know that that ball has carried.
“But I feel for the umpires in this situation. It’s not the umpires’ fault that they’re 40 yards away – potentially 60 yards in white-ball cricket – with maybe an obscured view.
“It’s actually the ruling that’s putting the umpires in a really difficult situation. It’s having to get a soft signal. You’re going upstairs because you’re not sure whether it’s carried or not.
“So then to have to give an opinion whether you think it has, puts the umpire in a really tricky position. Then the third umpire’s hands are tied a little bit with whatever that on-field call is,” he added.
Broad has called on the ICC to look into the matter and take corrective steps.
“So, my question is: do you think that the ICC need to look at changing that rule because it just seems to put their staff in a tricky position?”
Asked if he wants the rule to be changed, Broad replied: “I do, absolutely. When you calmly look at the pros and cons of the soft signal, the cons completely outweigh the pros. So to me that looks as if it’s a poor ruling.”
“I don’t really see the point of waiting for another ICC meeting in September or wherever it comes to discuss what’s going on in the game. Surely the umpires are now in a position where they get unfairly criticised for a decision that they’re not sure about because they want to go and use the technology.
“Let’s just do away with it now. The ICC should just come out and say ‘the soft signal is gone’. If the umpires are unsure, let’s go through the amazing technology we’ve got and get the right decision,” he added.
The ICC introduced the soft signal to counter the dangers of foreshortening from TV cameras, which are placed high above the action and unable to illustrate the action in 3D.
Broad isn’t the first player to question the ruling.
Former West Indies captain Jason Holder is also not in favour of the soft signal rule.
“How much longer will the soft signal cloud the game?” he tweeted.