Phillip Hughes inquest verdict: ‘No one to blame’ for Australian cricketer’s death

No one was to blame for the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, an inquest has found.

Hughes died two days after being struck on the back of the head by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game between New South Wales and South Australia in November 2014.

Coroner Michael Barnes gave his findings on Friday morning, which included calling on CA to look at the rules pertaining to dangerous or unfair bowling.

“There is absolutely no suggestion the ball was bowled with malicious intent,” said the report after examining what had happened in that first-class match between South Australia, who Hughes played for, and New South Wales in Sydney.

“Neither the bowler nor anyone else was to blame for the tragic outcome.”

Like much of the cricketing community, the Hughes family also expressed reluctance about the inquest but were understandably after some answers. Hughes’ sister, Megan, had previously said that they just wanted to know what happened so that it might not happen to anybody else. This, if nothing else, should have validated the inquest.

His recommendations are just that. They do not legally bind Cricket Australia to any action, though it would beggar belief were they not implemented as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Hughes was struck after “a minuscule misjudgement or a slight error of execution” from the batsman, according to the coroner.

During the hearing, it was disputed whether Hughes had received sledging from New South Wales players. Barnes said it was “difficult to accept” no sledging had occurred but that “even if the threats were made, they did not affect Phillip’s composure so as to undermine his capacity to defend himself against short-pitched, high bouncing bowling and so the threats could not be implicated in his death.”

However, Barnes recommended the rules regarding dangerous deliveries are reviewed and that “umpires be provided with more guidance as to how the laws should be applied.”

Barnes came to the same conclusion as an earlier independent review into the death that Hughes’ helmet was not to blame.

Cricket Australia have since made improvements in this area, with a professional paramedic now present at all first-class games, though Barnes suggested implementing a daily medical briefing to ensure all staff members were aware of the procedures in case of emergency.