Cricket chiefs urged to review soft signals after Devon Conway survives controversial claimed catch

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Zak Crawley attempts to catch an edge from Devon Conway. - GETTY IMAGES
Zak Crawley attempts to catch an edge from Devon Conway. - GETTY IMAGES

Cricket chiefs have been urged to review the use of soft signals after New Zealand opener Devon Conway controversially survived a claimed catch by Zak Crawley.

The incident occurred when Conway had made 22 in New Zealand's first innings. He edged a delivery from Stuart Broad to Crawley at third slip, who dived forward to take the catch, with Broad celebrating the wicket.

But Conway stood his ground, promoting a meeting in the middle between on-field umpires Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth. Kettleborough, the standing umpire, duly referred the incident to the third umpire Michael Gough, but not before delivering a soft signal of 'not out', indicating he felt the ball had not carried.

Under ICC rules, the burden of proof was then on Gough to prove that Kettleborough had made a mistake if he wanted to overturn the decision. After studying replays, Gough sided with the on-field officials, saying that the ball had "clearly" been grounded.

England struggled to contain their irritation on the field, with Stuart Broad gesturing at the umpires that Crawley had got his fingers under the ball, and the incident also prompted a backlash from senior figures within cricket, who blamed the soft signal system for effectively skewing the decision-making process.

"You could see from the reaction on the field [the players] were clearly frustrated," said Jon Lewis, England’s fast bowling coach. "It's sport and it divides opinion. You see every Saturday in football a decision some players don't agree with.

“New Zealand will be happy, we will be frustrated."

Lewis floated the idea of the soft signal being abolished. “I suppose the question really is, is the soft signal required? Or could the guy off the field make the decision?”

Zak Crawley attempts to make the catch.
Zak Crawley attempts to make the catch.

After seeing the decision, former West Indian captain Jason Holder wrote on Twitter, "How much longer will the soft signal cloud the game?", while pundits including Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key all insisted the catch had been taken cleanly.

“That is out. All day every day,” said Simon Doull, the former New Zealand Test player, on Sky Sports.

Conway – who made a double-hundred in his Test debut at Lord's last week – had made 22 and added another 58 runs as New Zealand responded to England's 303 all out. They ended the day on top at 229-3, trailing by only 74 runs.

This year, the Indian Premier League opted to remove the soft signal for decisions referred to the TV umpire, with on-field umpires not giving any indication of whether they think a player has been caught cleanly when referring a catch. The experiment was generally considered to have been a success.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India and the country's captain Virat Kohli have been critical of the soft signal in international cricket. Its future is likely to be a growing source of discussion going forward.

Lewis admitted that England are behind in the game, and should have scored more than 303 on a good batting surface.

"We wanted to score more runs than we did to be honest and New Zealand showed us how to bat on that pitch. Looking forward we've got a really young side and we've got to appreciate they will make mistakes and be patient with them."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting