The International Cricket Council (ICC) has made some significant changes to the playing conditions, including the removal of the soft signal rule and the mandatory use of helmets in high-risk positions. These changes will come into effect on June 1, 2023.
Under the new rule, on-field umpires will consult with TV umpires before making any decisions. This decision was taken by the men’s cricket committee led by Sourav Ganguly and the women’s cricket committee. The Chief Executives’ committee approved these changes.
Furthermore, the mandatory use of helmets is now required for specific high-risk positions. Batters facing fast bowlers, wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps, and fielders close to the batter in front of the wicket must wear helmets for safety reasons.
Sourav Ganguly stated that player safety is of utmost importance, and the use of helmets was the most effective way to protect players. Previously, helmets were recommended but not mandatory for these high-risk positions.
The ‘Free Hit’ rule has also been slightly modified. Any runs scored off a Free Hit when the ball hits the stumps now count towards the score. So, if a batter is bowled off a Free Hit, any runs scored off it will be attributed to the batter.
From June 1, 2023, all these changes will be in effect. The first time these changes will be practiced is in a one-off four-day Test match between England and Ireland.