An inquest into the death of Phillip Hughes has heard that the former Hampshire and Australia cricketer was subjected to hostile bowling and verbal abuse, including a comment that sounded like ‘I’m going to kill you’.
A lawyer for the Hughes family said the 25-year-old, who was playing for South Australia against his former team-mates from New South Wales, was exposed to an extraordinary amount of short-pitch bowling, and alleged that fast bowler Doug Bollinger engaged in verbal abuse.
Bollinger denied using the phrase, and his team-mates – including Australia vice-captain David Warner – said they did not remember hearing any threat.
Tom Cooper, the South Australia batsman on the field when Hughes was fatally struck, also said he did not remember any threatening comments from the bowlers.
Sean Abbott – who bowled the delivery that struck Hughes behind the ear and which led to the brain haemorrhage that caused him to die two days later in a Sydney hospital – gave a statement to the inquiry, but was not required to attend.
Players and umpires involved in the game said there was nothing unusual about the nature of play until Hughes collapsed on the pitch, an accident that stunned cricket followers around the world.
New South Wales state coroner, Michael Barnes, said the aim of the inquiry was not to apportion blame, but to investigate the emergency response and to make recommendations for the future.
Barnes is investigating whether the nature of play contributed to the risk for the former batsman, who played five times for Hampshire in 2010, the response by stadium and cricket staff and officials, and whether new guidelines on safety equipment need to be introduced to the sport.
Cricket Australia’s high-performance manager, Pat Howard, said: ‘We’re very proud of the conduct of the players, officials and staff throughout.’
Barnes is expected to release his findings on November 4.