Sport Cricket Phil Hughes inquest: Bowler ‘confused and upset’
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Phil Hughes inquest: Bowler ‘confused and upset’

"I felt the game that day was being played within the laws and spirit of cricket": Sean Abbott. Photo: AAP
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Cricketer Sean Abbott has told a coronial inquest how he was “confused and upset” after batsman Phillip Hughes was struck in a Sheffield Shield match in November 2014.

Abbott was bowling when Hughes was hit in the neck while batting for South Australia against New South Wales. The injury caused a haemorrhage in Hughes’ brain and he died two days later.

On day three of the Sydney inquest investigating the manner and cause of Hughes’ death, the coroner was advised there was no finding or recommendation around sledging, ruling it out.

That came despite a written statement from ex-Tasmanian cricketer Matthew Day, who said he heard NSW bowler Doug Bollinger confessing to a sledge of “I’m going to kill you” in the direction of South Australian batsmen.

“I can’t believe I said that,” Day recalled Bollinger saying at the SCG.

“I’ve said things like that in the past but I am never going to say that again.”

Day said six or seven cricketers were around when Bollinger divulged the sledge.

On Wednesday, Abbott provided the inquest with a written statement which recalled the incidents of the day.

“After Phillip was struck, I saw him start to sway and I ran to the other end of the pitch and I held the right side of his head with my left hand,” he said in his statement.

“I remained on the field until after Phillip was placed on the medicab and then returned to the change room.

“Once in the change room I felt confused and upset.

“I had a headache, people kept coming up to me but I cannot remember what they said.

“It was all a bit of a blur and I felt like I was in a bit of a daze. I felt super tired.

“These feelings stayed with me for the next few days.”

‘I do not recall anything unusual’

Abbott said that he had deliberately not watched vision of the incident in his statement.

phillip hughes inquest
Sean Abbott has played one-day and Twenty20 international cricket for Australia. Photo: Getty

Earlier in the inquest, former NSW captain Brad Haddin and bowler Bollinger were questioned over concerns that the team were bowling more short balls at Hughes and that Bollinger threatened South Australian players.

Those comments were denied by Haddin and Bollinger, while South Australian batsman Cooper – Hughes’ batting partner at the time of the incident – also said he had no knowledge of them.

And Abbott said bowling tactics on the day were nothing out of the ordinary.

“This is the first time I have been asked to, or have, recorded my recollection of 25 November 2014 in writing,” he added.

“I have not viewed the video footage of the match since that day, although I have seen some photographs and short pieces of the video of the incident that were posted to social media by members of the public.

“I do not recall anything unusual about the day prior to the incident when Phillip was struck and I do not recall anything unusual about the bowling that day or in the lead-up to the incident.

“I do not recall any particular instructions being given to the NSW team at lunchtime on that day, or any discussion about a specific plan for the period after lunch, although there would have been a team chat.

“I cannot recall anything that suggested that either Phillip or Tom were uncomfortable before the incident and I cannot recall anything that indicated that any bowling tactics were making inroads on them.

phil hughes inquest
Tom Cooper in action for South Australia. Photo: Getty

“I felt the game that day was being played within the laws and the spirit of cricket.”

Sledging ruled out of inquest

Throughout the inquest, the Hughes family has repeatedly raised concerns that Hughes and his batting partner were sledged by the opposing team.

This has been denied by the players who have given evidence so far.

Counsel assisting Kristina Stern SC has now advised the coroner that there is no finding or recommendation around sledging.

“There is no evidence that any comment that day exacerbated the risk of injury to Phillip,” she said.

That was despite Day saying Bollinger told him after Hughes had died that he had made the sledge.

“I can’t believe I said that,” Day recalled Bollinger saying in front of six or seven cricketers.

“I’ve said things like that in the past but I am never going to say that again.”

– with ABC, AAP

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