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Coroner finds no-one was at fault for Hughes' tragic death

By Robert Jones

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.

The New South Wales coroner who led the inquest, Michael Barnes, attached no blame to the short bowling, sledging or Hughes' equipment but made a number of suggestions for improving safety in the sport.

Barnes' findings were released yesterday in Australia.

Hughes was 63 not out when he was struck in the 49th over of South Australia's first innings by a bouncer from Sean Abbott.

The report said there was "absolutely no suggestion the ball was bowled with malicious intent" and that "neither the bowler nor anyone else was to blame for the tragic outcome.".

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."

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

He did, however, find flaws with the "suboptimal" emergency response, though said the "injury suffered by Phillip was unsurvivable".

The areas of concern, Barnes said, included the fact "none of those on the field knew how to summon medical assistance" and that it took over six minutes for an ambulance to be called.

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