Johannesburg [South Africa], Nov. 4 : A New South Wales Coroner on Friday ruled out that neither the bowler, nor anyone else was to blame for Phillip Hughes' death, adding that a "minuscule misjudgment" by the Australian batsman while facing the bouncer led to the "tragic outcome".
Hughes was struck on the back of the neck by a bouncer while batting for the West End Redbacks in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25, 2014 which eventually led to his death two days later.
"A minuscule misjudgment or a slight error of execution caused him to miss the ball which crashed into his neck with fatal consequences," coroner Michael Barnes was quoted as saying by Sport24.
"There was no suggestion the ball was bowled with malicious intent. Neither the bowler nor anyone else was to blame for the tragic outcome," he added. The NSW Coroner, however, added that Hughes' death would not have been prevented even if the batsman were wearing more modern head protection, insisting that a quicker medical response would also have made no difference to the "unsurvivable" injuries.
"Phillip wasn't wearing the most up-to-date safety helmet when he was struck and the rules that then applied didn't require him to do so," he said.
"However, had he even been wearing that most modern equipment then available, it would not have protected the area of his body where the fatal blow landed," he added.
Hughes' family had raised concerns about on-field sledging, or verbal abuse, including threats against him, and the amount of short, fast deliveries he faced which they felt the umpires could have stopped during the inquest.
But the coroner denied saying neither affected Hughes' composure and the batsman was comfortably dealing with the short-pitched balls "because of his very high level of skill and competence".
"I conclude no failure to enforce the laws of the game contributed to his death," he said. Barnes also recommended that the laws around dangerous and unfair bowling should be reviewed by Cricket Australia to clear up any ambiguity in their wording.
The NSW Coroner also suggested the authorities to continue working with sports equipment manufacturers to develop a neck guard that is comfortable and provides better protection.
On the last day of week-long inquest into Hughes' death at the NSW Coroner's Court in Sydney last month, the Australian batsman' family counsel Greg Melick had accused that there was "prefabricating evidence" provided by players, who were present at the match.
However, Melick soon back-tracked on his word and said he didn't mean to say that evidences were fabricated, but was rather confused as to why players were finding it difficult to recall the incidents.