Phil Hughes was batting on 63 in a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales on 25th November 2014 in Sydney when the batsman was hit by Sean Abbott's bouncer that struck him on the back of the neck. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where the left-hander lost his life two days later.
It has been two years since his death and Australian authorities have been very particular in their approach towards the safety of the players. Various recommendations have been put forward to minimize the risks on the field.
A coroner's inquest into the death of Hughes started off on Monday and is scheduled to go on for a week reviewing the circumstances of the incident that led to his death. The inquest's motive is to find if the 25-year-old's death could have been avoided.
Various cricketers were present at the inquest in Sydney with the notable ones being Doug Bollinger, David Warner, and Brad Haddin.
Counsel for Hughes' family Greg Melick SC accused Bollinger of crossing his limits. He said that Bollinger had threatened Hughes and his batting partner, Tom Cooper, before the fatal incident. Bollinger is said to have used the words, "I am going to kill you."
Bollinger responded to the allegations saying, "I don't recall saying that." He then added, "I may have but I don't think so."
In the previous inquest, Bollinger had completely denied any instance of him sledging Hughes in that match. Retired Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, Brad Haddin, had his views on the incident as well, where he said, "He looked OK for a second then it was something like I've never witnessed before in my life."
"It was the noise that he let out. The groan and the way he fell...straight down motionless"
Hughes' family were concerned and claimed that Phil was targeted by the New South Wales team. However, Haddin said he had no recollection of Bollinger sledging Hughes and the field change was done only to reduce the scoring rate.
Melick SC was reluctant to accept the denial, though, and he read out a statement issued by Warner’s where he indicated there was a clear plan to bowl at or over leg-stump to move Hughes backward. However, Haddin and Bollinger denied of such plan.
Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said that he was hopeful of a positive outcome at the end of the inquest. With the inquest set to continue for a week, one can expect a lot more startling facts to pop out of this.