This is the succinct, heartfelt and to-the-point statement tabled early Wednesday afternoon at the Phillip Hughes inquest, in which bowler Sean Abbott publicly reveals for the first time his recollections of the incident of November 25, 2014, and the moments leading up to it.
Abbott did not appear in person, but tabled a statement. We'll break the statement down in sequential chunks with a break or two to explain his words in the context of events which have transpired in the inquest so far.
The statement begins:
"This is the first time I have been asked to, or have recorded my recollection of 25 November 2014 in writing. I have not viewed the video footage of the match since that day, although I have seen some photographs and short pieces of the video of the incident that were posted to social media by members of the public."
Much of the focus of the inquest has thus far been on events leading up to the fateful delivery, and whether the NSW team was bowling particularly aggressively at Hughes (who grew up in NSW but was playing for his adopted state of South Australia).
Abbott hosed these speculations down.
"I do not recall anything unusual about the day prior to the incident when Phillip was struck and I do not recall anything unusual about the bowling that day or in the lead-up to the incident.
I do not recall any particular instructions being given to the NSW team at lunchtime on that day, or any discussion about a specific plan for the period after lunch, although there would have been a team chat.
I cannot recall anything that suggested that either Phillip or Tom were uncomfortable before the incident and I cannot recall anything that indicated that any bowling tactics were making inroads on them.
I felt the game that day was being played within the laws and spirit of cricket."
That last line in particular is important. It has been reported this week that NSW bowler Doug Bollinger said "I'm going to f--kin' kill you," as a sledge to Hughes. It's the sort of sledge cricketers make all the time at all competitive levels of the game, and no one has suggested it was intended literally.
But cricketers have closed the circle and denied the sledge happened at all. Abbott's statement that the game was "played within the spirit of cricket" can be read in this context.
Abbott's statement then elaborated upon the ball itself:
"I always knew that I would have to work hard to get him out. I don't think I had ever got him out [before].
I think Phillip was a bit early through the shot. If a batsman is early through the shot, it makes me think that the ball is slower than they had anticipated. I don't remember the ball being fast or slow. Maybe the wicket was a little bit slower that day. That's the type of wicket at the SCG."
And then, the moment that shocked a nation, and for which nobody blames Sean Abbott, including NSW State Coroner Michael Barnes, who has made it clear this inquest is no witch hunt.
"After Phillip was struck, I saw him start to sway and I ran to the other end of the pitch and I held the right side of his head with my left hand. I remained on the field until after Phillip was placed on the medicab and then returned to the change room.
"Once in the change room I felt confused and upset, I had a headache, people kept coming up to me but I cannot remember what they said. It was all a bit of a blur and I felt like I was in a bit of a daze. I felt super tired. These feelings stayed with me for the next few days."
The inquest continues.Suggest a correction