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Hughes family accepts coroner's findings

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Rebekah Ison

After grieving under the belief his death was the unnecessary result of his cricketing mates' unfair play, the family of Phillip Hughes say they accept a coroner's finding it was a "tragic accident".

The 25-year-old batsmen's parents Greg and Virginia, his brother Jason and sister Megan "are deeply hoping that no other family has to go through the pain of losing a loved one on an Australian sporting field", said a statement issued on their behalf on Friday evening.

"As the coroner has noted, Phillip's death has led to changes that will make cricket safer." It added that they "hoped that this would be part of Phillip's legacy to the game that he loved so dearly".

In handing down his determination, NSW Coroner Michael Barnes on Friday said the family's heartbreak had been "exacerbated by their belief that unfair play had contributed to his death".

But he ultimately found no one to blame and hoped they could believe the "compelling evidence" that the rules were followed.

"Nothing can undo the source of their never-ending sorrow," he told Glebe Coroner's Court.

"But hopefully in the future, the knowledge that Phillip was loved and admired by so many and that his death has led to changes that will make cricket safer will be of some comfort."

Hughes died two days after he was fatally struck in the neck by a Sean Abbott delivery during a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG on November 25, 2014.

Mr Barnes recommended changes to medical briefings procedures at games and a review of laws on short pitched bowling, while he found sledging to be an "ugly" part of the game.

The inquest heard the Hughes family were concerned NSW player Doug Bollinger said something like "I'm going to kill you" to Hughes or his South Australian batting partner Tom Cooper before the fatal delivery.

Mr Barnes said Hughes' composure was not affected even if the threat was made and that sledging could not be implicated in the death.

But he questioned whether the sledging was worthy of the game, calling it an "ugly underside" to a "beautiful game" and saying evidence from players that no insults were thrown on the day was hard to believe.

Hughes, who faced 20 of the day's 23 short balls, was an experienced batsman and no failure to enforce rules by the umpires contributed to the fatal accident, Mr Barnes found.

"A minuscule misjudgment or a slight error of execution caused him to miss the ball which crashed into his neck," he said.

The inquest heard nothing could have been done to save Hughes once he was struck but that there were problems with the emergency response to the incident.

Mr Barnes recommended Cricket NSW and the SCG Trust further tighten medical briefings procedures and train umpires to ensure assistance can be summoned to the field.

He also recommended Cricket Australia review "ambiguous" laws around dangerous and unfair bowling and urged the governing body to continue trying to improve protective headwear.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the recommendations would be implemented as soon as possible but that neck guards wouldn't be mandated until there's evidence they're beneficial.

Sutherland said his thoughts were with Hughes family.

"They more than anyone have had to live with the sad reality that Phillip is longer with them," he said.

"None of us can in any way underestimate the challenges they've got in dealing with the reality that Phillip's no longer with us."

The Hughes family said they noted the coroner's recommendations and Cricket Australia's commitment to implement them.

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