Compulsory helmets and review changes: ICC announces rule tweaks ahead of Ashes summer

The ICC has tweaked the rules of cricket ahead of the Ashes(Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)
The ICC has tweaked the rules of cricket ahead of the Ashes(Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced tweaks to the rules of cricket before the Ashes series this summer.

The controversial “soft-signal”, where an on-field umpire had to make a call before decisions could be referred to the TV umpire, has been scrapped.

The rule had been criticised by the likes of Ben Stokes, who urged the ICC to get rid of the rule in January after it affected the New Year’s Test between Australia and South Africa.

While previously if a decision could not be made by DRS or the third TV Umpire, the decision would revert to that given on the field of play, this will no longer be the case.

“The on-field umpires will consult with the TV umpire before any decisions are taken,” the ICC confirmed.

“Soft signals have been discussed at previous cricket committee meetings over the last couple of years,” Sourav Ganguly, leader of the Men’s Cricket Committee said.

“The committee deliberated this at length and concluded that soft signals were unnecessary and at times confusing since referrals of catches may seem inconclusive in replays.”

The change will be welcomed by those in the game who have debated its value, but it takes away some of the decision-making capabilties of the on-field officials.

Restrictions have also been tightened up on helmets. Helmets will now have to be worn by batters facing fast bowlers, wicketkeepers when standing up to the stumps, and fielders when close to the batter in front of the wicket.

The changes will come into place on 1 June, the first day of the England v Ireland Test at Lord’s, and will also affect the World Test Championship final and the men’s and women’s Ashes series that follow it.