Family hopes for positives as Hughes inquest opens


An inquest into the death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes opened Monday with his family and sport chiefs hopeful some good can come out of the tragedy.

Hughes, who played 26 Tests, died from bleeding on the brain in November 2014 after being hit on the base of the skull by a rising ball while batting in a domestic match in Sydney.

His death — a freak accident — stunned Australia and the world cricket community, sparking an outpouring of grief.

A spokesman for the Hughes family, his former manager James Henderson, said in a brief statement it would be a “very, very, very difficult week”.

“They haven’t been looking forward to this week, as you would imagine,” he said.

“They’re hoping that perhaps there will be a positive come-out of Phillip’s death as we go through this next five days inside the coroner’s court.”

New South Wales state coroner Michael Barnes will examine the manner and cause of his death and also has jurisdiction to make recommendations, particularly in the interest of public health and safety.

He is expected to look at how the fatal injury occurred and whether or not a protective helmet would have minimised the risk.

It will also examine emergency planning and response times, a spokesman for the NSW Coroner’s Court said. The findings may come on Friday, but could take weeks.

An independent review into Hughes’ death, ordered by Cricket Australia, has already been carried out and recommended earlier this year that helmets be compulsory for batsmen and fielders near the wicket.

It also suggested substitutes be considered for concussed players, while ruling the medical treatment he received was appropriate and timely.

At the time, Hughes was wearing a helmet that was not compliant with more recent, and stringent, British standards, which extend the grille protecting the face further to the rear of the helmet.

Lawyer David Curtain, who conducted the review, said even if Hughes had been wearing the newer model, it would not have saved him.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the inquest would be an “emotionally challenging time” for everyone involved, including Australian cricketers called as witnesses.

“This week is going to provide, I guess, a confronting reminder of the sad reality that Phillip Hughes is no longer with us,” he said outside the court.

“We do hope that something good comes from this process.”

© 2016 AFP

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