11 Oct 2016

Inquest begins into cricketers death

5:41 am on 11 October 2016

Former Australian pace bowler Doug Bollinger says he can't remember telling South Australian batsmen, including Phillip Hughes, "I'm going to kill you" on the day the young cricketer was fatally struck by a ball to the neck.

Phillip Hughes tribute black armband.

Phillip Hughes tribute black armband. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

An inquest into Hughes' death has heard his family are concerned the 25-year-old may have been targeted by NSW bowlers in an "ungentlemanly" fashion on the day he was hit in November 2014.

Barrister for the Hughes family, Greg Melick SC suggested to Bollinger he said something like "I'm going to kill you" or "I'm going to kill youse" to either Hughes or his batting partner Tom Cooper before the incident.

Giving evidence, Bollinger, a former Test and NSW teammate of Hughes, at first completely denied saying the words but later said he didn't think he had.

In a written statement, he said he couldn't remember sledging Hughes on the day at all.

"It was nearly two years ago," Bollinger wrote in the statement, which was partly read to the inquest at the Downing Centre.

"I can't remember saying anything to Tom Cooper but it's possible I did."

It's not suggested Bollinger meant what he allegedly said, Mr Melick told the court.

Hughes was hit by a short ball from pace bowler Sean Abbott while at the crease for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

He died in hospital two days later.

State coroner Michael Barnes will look at whether the nature of play contributed to risk, the response to Hughes' injury and whether different equipment could make players safer.

Retired Australian and NSW wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said he didn't think concerns from Hughes' family the batsman had been unfairly targeted by short balls from the NSW bowlers were warranted.

Haddin said he had no recollection of Bollinger "mouthing off" and that he only talked to the team's coach about changing field positions during the lunch break to slow the scoring rate.

But Mr Melick said NSW batsman David Warner's statement indicated there was a plan to bowl at or over leg stump to move Hughes backward.

Haddin and Bollinger both said they had no recollection of such a plan.

The inquest heard a total of 23 short pitched balls were bowled to Hughes and Cooper during the day.

The court also heard numerous cricketers due to give evidence have requested not to view disturbing footage of Hughes' fatal incident in preparation for the inquest.

Some of the cricketer's family members walked out of court before it was played to the coroner.

Haddin said he saw Hughes get hit but didn't know which part of his body had been struck.

"He looked OK for three seconds then it was something like I've never witnessed before in my life," he said.

"It was the noise that he let out. The groan and the way he fell ... straight down motionless."

Mr Barnes started the inquest by offering his condolences to the Hughes family, saying the cricketer was "before anything else, a son and a brother".

Outside court, Hughes' manager James Henderson and Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland both said they hoped something positive would come out of the week.

Mr Henderson said it was a "very, very difficult" time for Hughes' family.

Cooper is expected to be among witnesses called on Tuesday.

Australian Test and one-day vice-captain Warner, who is in South Africa, is expected to give his evidence at some point via audio visual link.

The inquest continues.