EVEN if cricketer Phillip Hughes had been wearing the most modern protection available, the bouncer that caused a fatal brain haemorrhage would still have killed him, the NSW coroner has ruled.
Hughes died after Sean Abbott delivery struck his neck during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25, 2014.
The strike caused a brain injury, and Hughes died two days later.
NSW state coroner Michael Barnes found that while Hughes was targeted by short-pitched bowling, it was not done with malice.
He found "there is absolutely no suggestion the ball was bowled with malicious intent".
"Neither the bowler nor anyone else was to blame for the tragic outcome," he said.
"I conclude no failure to enforce the laws of the game contributed to his death.
"He could have avoided the ball by ducking under it but such was his competitiveness, he sought to make runs from it."
Mr Barnes questioned the emergency procedures on the field, as staff had no idea how to call medical assistance on to the field.
It took more than six minutes for an ambulance to be called.
"Although it was immediately obvious that Phillip was seriously injured, it wasn't clear whose responsibility it was to call an ambulance."
The coroner said there was conflicting evidence over whether a particularly violent sledge was made during the game after Hughes' performed well earlier in the day.
The bowler in question denied this, but others corroborated the allegation.
Mr Barnes said if it did happen, the sledge did not appear to unsettle Hughes, who continued to perform well at the crease.