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David Warner gives statement in Phil Hughes' inquest, says there was no sledging during the game


The Australian opener denied allegations from Hughes' family that he was targeted with short balls and sledges.

David Warner
David Warner during an earlier Test match

David Warner has confirmed the evidence from fellow players and officials that object the main concerns of the family of Phillip Hughes on the second day of the inquest into the batsman's tragic death.

Warner appeared via video link from Cape Town, where Australia are playing South Africa in an ODI series, on the second day of a public inquest into the tragic death of Hughes by the NSW Coroners Court.

Warner confirmed that the Hughes family accusations that there was ‘ungentlemanly’ short-pitched targeting of Hughes or aggressive sledging of the batsman during the dreaded Sheffield Shield match in November 2014, was misplaced.

Hughes was struck on the back side of the neck while batting and the injury resulted in his death in a hospital two days later. The cause was attributed to a traumatic basal subarachnoid haemorrhage caused by the blow to his neck.

The Hughes family have expressed some specific concerns they wish this NSW Coroner's Court inquest to address:

1) That there was a persistent short-ball tactic used against Hughes.

2) that Hughes was targeted in an "ungentlemanly" way by the NSW team.

3) that he was the subject of aggressive sledging.

4) that there were too many short-pitched balls in the afternoon session.

Warner, however, said Hughes "wasn't sledged at all" during the whole day's play.

The Hughes family, his parents and siblings, present at the inquest for the second day, seemed unimpressed by Warner's statement and shook their heads at his responses.

The court had earlier heard an allegation that NSW fast bowler Doug Bollinger told the South Australian batsman "I'm going to kill youse". That allegation has been denied by all players, including Bollinger himself, and both umpires, in testimony under oath during the same inquest.

Warner, a close friend and former NSW and Australia teammate with Hughes, added a touch of humour to the grim proceedings when asked if he could divulge a conversation he had with Hughes the day the batsman was struck by stating that he could possibly not reveal it in a courtroom.

Hughes was comfortable at the crease

Warner explained Hughes appeared very comfortable at the crease until he was struck by Sean Abbott's bouncer.

On Monday, the Hughes family counsel, Greg Melick SC, had questioned opposition skipper, Brad Haddin, on the team's tactics towards Hughes, suggesting there was a deliberate ploy after the lunch break of short-pitched bowling, which Haddin outrightly denied.

Melick cited a paragraph from Warner's written statement that the team had a plan "to bowl at or above leg stump to force Hughes onto the back foot" in the hope of getting his wicket. Haddin, however, denied there was such a plan in a tense cross-examination.

Today Warner clarified that statement saying it was a commonly-known strategy and not a specific plan to Hughes.

During the lunch team talk Warner said it was "not just about Phillip, just in our cricket terminology to bowl our line and lengths. It's said one minute before we walk out, just a reminder for the bowlers not to forget."

Warner was also forced to deny a suggestion from Melick that his memory of the day was not that good after Warner said he did not recall a Bollinger short ball hitting South Australia batsman Tom Cooper's shoulder.

Earlier, Cooper, who was batting with Hughes at the time of the incident, agreed there were more short-pitched deliveries after lunch and that it appeared a tactic to curb the run-rate, but stood with Warner and Haddin in that he was not targeted in an "ungentlemanly" manner.

Cooper also said there was no sledging from the New South Wales bowlers and denied he had told Hughes's brother, Jason that Bollinger issued the "I'm going to kill youse" sledge.

No sledging occurred during the game

Asked about the alleged sledge by Bollinger, Cooper said that it did not happen and that if it really did, he would have remembered it because it was too personal. Cooper denied he had relayed Bollinger's alleged sledge under a tense cross-examination from Melick.

The inquest will continue tomorrow though there are no further cricketers scheduled to be called in as witnesses, with focus turning to events staff at the SCG.

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