Stuart Broad on soft signal: 'Let's just do away with it now'

England seamer says current system puts on-field umpires in "really difficult situation"

George Dobell
George Dobell
Stuart Broad has called for the ICC to "do away with" the soft signal following a controversial moment on the second day of the LV= Insurance Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
Broad was convinced that Devon Conway had been caught at slip by Zak Crawley when the batter had 22. But the on-field umpires were unsure and referred the decision to the TV umpire, Michael Gough, with a soft signal of not out. Gough subsequently confirmed that on-field decision despite replays suggesting Crawley had his fingers under the ball. Conway went on to make 80 and help New Zealand build a strong position in the game.
While Broad remains convinced that was the wrong decision, he expressed sympathy for the umpires and called on the ICC to step in immediately to abandon the soft signal protocol.
"You can see from our reaction on the field that we thought it was out," Broad told Sky Sports before play on the third day. "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.
"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 thought the process should 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."
The soft signal was introduced to counter the dangers of foreshortening from TV cameras, which are placed high above the action and unable to illustrate the action in 3D, but Broad is far from the first high-profile player to question its value. Jason Holder, the former West Indies captain, tweeted "How much longer will the soft signal cloud the game?" on Friday, while Virat Kohli has suggested the on-field umpires should be permitted not to commit themselves to a decision.
The ICC has indicated it will look again at the protocol, but Broad, whose father, Chris, is match referee for this Test, was impatient for change.
"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," Broad said. "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."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo