Warne was on the popular tourist island of Koh Samui when he was found. Local medics attended the scene but could not save him.
“It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4 March,” a statement from his management company MPC Entertainment read. “Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived. The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course."
Only a few hours earlier, Warne had tweeted his own tribute to the passing of fellow Australian great Rod Marsh, the former wicketkeeper who passed away aged 74 on Friday. “Sad to hear the news that Rod Marsh has passed,” Warne tweeted. “He was a legend of our great game & an inspiration to so many young boys & girls. Rod cared deeply about cricket & gave so much-especially to Australia & England players. Sending lots & lots of love to Ros & the family. RIP mate❤️.”
Warne, who played for Hampshire between 2000-07, took 708 Test wickets for Australia, the second-highest tally of all time behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. He played an instrumental part in Australia’s era of dominance through the 1990s and 2000s alongside fellow greats like Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, winning the 1999 World Cup and five Ashes series.
He retired in 2007 and went on to become a popular and forthright pundit, commentator and analyst, and was a regular contributor on Sky Sports’ cricket coverage in recent years.
The news has shocked Australia, the cricket community and the wider sporting world. The current Australian opener David Warner tweeted: “Two legends of our game have left us too soon. I’m lost for words, and this is extremely sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh and Warne family. I just can not believe it. #rip, you will both be missed.”
England Cricket paid tribute to Warne on Twitter, writing: “One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius. You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne.”
Ian Botham, the former England player and cricket commentator, said Warne was “one of the best” and that he had lost a “great friend on and off the playing field”. Phil Tufnell added: “Devastated to learn of the passing of my pal Shane Warne. A true superstar in the world of cricket and a top, top man. Taken way too soon.”
Warne reinvented spin bowling, mastering its intricacies and deploying his skills as a devastating weapon to which England were regularly the victims, taking four 10-wicket match hauls against Australia’s old rivals.
One of his most famous wickets was his first against England, in his first Ashes Test. Bowling to Mike Gatting at Manchester’s Old Trafford in 1993, Warne bowled what is often described as the “ball of the century”, which pitched way outside leg stump and ripped back across the wicket to remove off stump, leaving Gatting utterly perplexed.
He was named among the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century alongside Don Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards.
He was also involved in several controversies on and off the pitch. It was revealed several years later that in 1995, he and Australian teammate Mark Waugh had accepted money from a bookmaker in exchange for information about match conditions. Ahead of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, he tested positive for a banned diuretic and was banned from the sport for a year.
Warne returned to cement his legacy as one of the sport’s greatest players, becoming the first bowler to pass 700 Test wickets.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was coached by Warne in the Indian Premier League, wrote on Instagram: “Australian Legend. rajasthanroyals Legend. Was an honour to know you and work with you. This man is a LEGEND.”
Former England batter Ian Bell, who faced Warne in the famous 2005 Ashes series, posted: “There are no words. A hero growing up and the greatest player I ever played against. I can’t believe it. My thoughts are with his loved ones.”
England’s Barmy Army, a fan group who follow the team home and abroad, tweeted a video of Warne’s miraculous delivery to Gatting with the caption: “A complete genius.”
Former West Indies all-rounder Sir Viv Richards posted: Unbelievable. I am shocked to the core. This can’t be true... Rest In Peace ShaneWarne. There are no words to describe what I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket.”
India great Virender Sehwag wrote on Twitter: “Cannot believe it. One of the greatest spinners, the man who made spin cool, superstar Shane Warne is no more. Life is very fragile, but this is very difficult to fathom. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans all around the world.”
The former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis tweeted: “Shane Warne no more.. I’m Shocked and Shattered. Simply can’t believe I’m hearing this. Very very sad day for our cricket community. The biggest superstar of my generation gone. Goodbye Legend ShaneWarne #RIP Condolences to the family and friends.”
The India captain, Rohit Sharma, wrote: “I’m truly lost for words here, this is extremely sad. An absolute legend and champion of our game has left us. RIP Shane Warne....still can’t believe it.”
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