Sydney (AFP): Australian cricketer Sean Abbott was left upset and dazed for days after he bowled the ball which fatally injured batsman Phillip Hughes, a coroner’s inquest has been told.
Abbott, now aged 24, wrote in a statement released Wednesday that he had always looked up to Hughes, and had run to the batsman and held his head as he lay on the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“Once in the changeroom I felt confused and upset, I had a headache, people kept coming up to me but I cannot remember what they said,” Abbott 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.”
Hughes, 25, died two days after the rising delivery hit him in the neck during a domestic Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and South Australia in November 2014.
The blow caused a bleed on the brain from which death was likely “inevitable”, the inquest has been told.
The inquest, in which the coroner is examining the manner of Hughes’ death and can make recommendations to improve safety, has looked into whether he had been targeted with short balls or “sledged” with unsettling comments from opponents.
Questions have been raised about whether Hughes was told by one of the bowlers, “I am going to kill you”, but Abbott said he did not recall any such backchat.
“I felt the game that day was being played within the laws and spirit of cricket,” he said.
Abbott said Hughes had been “a bit early through the shot” when he took the delivery, which made him think that the ball had been travelling slower than the batsman had anticipated.
“I don’t remember the ball being fast or slow. Maybe the wicket was a little bit slower that day. That’s the type of wicket at the SCG,” he said.
Abbott, who has not been called to appear at the inquest, said he had avoided watching the distressing video of the incident but stressed there would always be risks in the game.
“I know there has been a suggestion that the laws of the game be changed so that bouncers should not be bowled, but the same cricket ball will be hit and flying around whether bouncers are bowled or not,” he said.
In his statement, Australian vice-captain David Warner said Hughes had been one of his “closest mates” and he missed him every day.
But he said he could not think of any way that a similar freak accident could be completely avoided.
“I don’t think a helmet could protect where Phil was hit and still allow a batsman to move his head properly or face up properly,” he said.
The inquest is due to finish on Friday. The coroner’s findings may come then, but it could take weeks.