AUS v IND 2018-19: Soft signal was introduced to assist the umpires in decision making, says Simon Taufel

Virat Kohli was ruled out in Perth without any clear evidence of the legality of Peter Handscomb's catch.

Virat, batting on 123* at the time, was looking good for more | Getty

The "soft-signal" became a genuine cause of debate once again when umpire Kumar Dharmasena ruled Virat Kohli out during the Perth Test despite there being no clear evidence to suggest the same.

On Day 3, in the first innings, Peter Handscomb claimed a low catch in the slips off Virat Kohli's bat after which the batsman stopped on his way and waited for the technology to take its course.

But, as is the norm, despite it being near impossible to decipher the cleanliness of the take in real time, Dharmasena soft signalled out sending it upstairs asking the third umpire to now search for sufficient visual evidence to reverse or reinstate the same.

The officiating third umpire saw the pictures that everyone did, which provided no clarity on the legality of Handscomb's catch. But the decision was reinstated as there was no real evidence to reverse it, either.

The benefit of the doubt, in such cases, goes to the batsman, but Virat, batting on 123 at the time, had to walk back to the pavilion during a crucial phase in the innings simply because of the soft-signal that Dharmasena gave and influenced the technological decision making.

It is how the "umpires' call" for LBW's work, as an example.

"It (soft signal) was introduced so that umpires would make decisions and also because technology doesn’t always provide an answer," Simon Taufel told Sportstar, weighing in on the whole matter, "Even a referral to the third umpire has its limitations because broadcasting differs from country to country — for example, the HotSpot is not part of the Decision Review System (DRS) for matches played in India."

"If you give the benefit of the doubt to the batsmen, then all of those decisions are going to come back as not out. It’s no different from making a normal signal."

"You have to decide, in your own mind, whether it is out or not out. Even with the broadcast, television cameras, etc., and the technology like HotSpot, Snickometer and ball-tracker available, it’s very hard for a match official to make a decision," he added.

The former member of the elite ICC panel of umpires, who was famously involved in the decision making for years and even featured during the final of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup in Mumbai, also stated that "officiating" is an extremely challenging task and "is not for everyone" to do.

"I’d say that match officiating is not for everyone. It’s certainly a hard task because your job is to make decisions. If you take away the soft signal, you’re telling them not to make a decision," Taufel emphasized.

The 47-year-old then cited an example from his own experience of how things used to be without the soft-signal and even DRS.

“It was a Test match in 2006 in Antigua, between India and West Indies. It was India's second innings and M. S. Dhoni was the batsman. There was uncertainty over whether it was a six or if he was out. I was standing at square leg and Asad Rauf was the umpire at the bowler's end," Taufel intimated, "Rauf referred the decision to the third umpire (Billy Doctrove). The third umpire couldn't make a decision if Dhoni was out or if it was a six. He told us, 'What do I do? You guys are on the field'."

"Daren Ganga, the fielder, was claiming the catch. Dhoni accepted the word of Ganga that he did not touch the rope in completing the catch and left the field after several minutes. Someone has to make a decision. Umpires are there to make a decision," he signed off.


By Kashish Chadha - 22 Dec, 2018

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