The number of bouncers bowled to Phillip Hughes in his final innings will be among the issues addressed by the New South Wales Coronial inquest into his death, a directions hearing has confirmed.
The NSW coroner Michael Barnes will pursue multiple avenues during an inquest to be held from October 10-14, as he examines the death of Hughes after he was struck by a short-pitched ball while playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG in November 2014.
At a directions hearing in Sydney on Friday, the areas to be investigated were outlined, including the "nature of play" on the day Hughes was struck and whether it complied with the rules of the competition. The response times of ambulances, the possibility of whether additional head protection could have deflected the blow, the vast media coverage of Hughes' collapse and subsequent death will be among other issues explored.
Players on the field at the time, including Australia's vice-captain David Warner and allrounder Sean Abbott, who was bowling when Hughes was struck, are expected to give evidence. Cricket Australia are to schedule the season-opening limited overs tournament in such a way that witness testimony does not clash with matches.
A CA-commissioned review of events was completed last year and released to the public in May. Conducted by David Curtain QC, it concluded that neither greater head protection for Hughes nor swifter transport from the SCG to the nearest hospital would have prevented his death, while also recommending a raft of changes to head and heart-related safety precautions around the game.
When releasing the report, CA's chief executive James Sutherland expressed hope that the coronial inquest would not tear at the fabric of the game by calling for greater restrictions on the use of short-pitched bowling.
"You'll see in the brief terms of reference we gave David Curtain that we needed to draw a line about the laws of the game and to have some perspective around that," Sutherland said. "You can make the game of cricket a lot safer by playing with a tennis ball, but that's not how Test cricket has been played and it would obviously be a very different game.
"We're not wanting to go there, but we do need to find the right balance in the circumstances to not compromise the way the game's played and not compromise the way in which the players are best equipped to show their skills."
The ICC's cricket committee recently rejected a CA-driven call for mandatory concussion substitutes to be brought into first-class matches and potentially Tests.