Shane Warne: Tributes paid to ‘cricket icon’ and ‘complete genius’ after sudden death aged 52

Warne, a genius bowler and the second-highest wicket-taker of all time, died suddenly while in Thailand of a suspected heart attack

Jamie Braidwood
Saturday 05 March 2022 11:01
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Shane Warne bowls 'Ball of the Century' against England at Old Trafford

Tributes have been paid to Shane Warne, the Australian cricket legend regarded as the greatest leg-spinner of all time, after his death from a suspected heart attack at the age of 52.

A statement from Warne’s management company said Warne had been found unresponsive at his villa in Thailand and “despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived.”

The Barmy Army, England’s supporters club, said Warne was a “complete genius” and “one of the game’s greatest characters” who is “forever etched in Ashes history”. The England cricket team posted on Twitter: “One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius. You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne”.

Glenn McGrath, with whom Warne formed a formidable strike partnership for their country, paid a warm tribute to his friend. “Just absolutely devastated today,” he wrote on Instagram. “Warnie was larger than life. I thought nothing could ever happen to him. He lived more in his life than most people would live in 20.

“He was the ultimate competitor. He thought the game was never lost, that he could turn it around and bring us to victory, which he did so many times. I think he lived his life the same way. There seemed to be never a dull moment. Rest In Peace my good mate, there’ll never again be anyone like you.”

Adam Gilchrist, who served as Warne’s Australia captain and wicketkeeper, said he was “numb” by his teammate’s sudden death. “The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie,” Gilchrist said. “Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work. Have often felt a tad selfish, that [Ian Healy] and I pretty much exclusively are the only ones who had that thrill and pleasure at Test level. Rip Warnie.”

Australia’s current captain, Pat Cummins, posted: “Hard to fathom. We all idolised Warnie growing up for his showmanship, will to win from any position and his incredible skill. Players all over the world owe him so much for what he has brought to cricket. He had a huge affect on all he met. He transcended cricket.”

Sachin Tendulkar, the former India captain and record batsman, said he was “shocked and stunned” by the news. “Will miss you Warnie,” he said. “There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter. You always had a special place for India & Indians had a special place for you. Gone too young!”

Brian Lara, another of the all-time cricket greats, added: “Speechless at the moment. I literally don’t know how to sum up this situation. My friend is gone!! We have lost one of the greatest sportsmen of all time!! My condolences goes out to his family.”

Former England internationals added their tributes, with Ian Bell tweeting: “There are no words. A hero growing up and the greatest player I ever played against. I can’t believe it.” Michael Vaughan posted: “Love ya king” while Ian Botham 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.”

Monty Panesar said Warne “brought cricket back into fashion” and was “a huge personality on and off the field”. He added: “Absolutely shocked to hear the news about Shane Warne. Words cannot express how the cricketing community will miss him. He was Mr. Hollywood.”

Former India captain Virat Kohli said Warne’s passing showed that life was “fickle and unpredictable.” He added: “I cannot process the passing of this great of our sport and also a person I got to know off the field. RIP #goat. Greatest to turn the cricket ball.” Rohit Sharma said he was “lost for words”, tweeting: “This is extremely sad. An absolute legend and champion of our game has left us.” Teammate Rishabh Pant said: “Terribly saddened and shocked to hear the news that Shane Warne has passed away. The greatest spin bowler of all time”, while the West Indies great Chris Gayle tweeted: “RIP legend”.

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.

David Warner, the current Australia opener, 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.”

Liam Livingstone, who is part of the England squad preparing to face the West Indies in this month’s test series, posted a picture of his kit with the caption: “The day I get my kit, with my new squad number… all came from one man, my idol growing up, the reason I bowl leg spin and the reason I now wear 23. Sad day for the world of cricket!! RIP @ShaneWarne a true cricketing legend!”

Pictures on social media showed the England and West Indies teams observing a minute’s silence in Antigua following the news of Warne’s death.

The India cricket team said: “The global cricketing community is poorer today with the passing away of Australian great Shane Warne. The BCCI mourns the loss of the champion cricketer who enriched the game with his craft.”

Their statement was echoed by Pakistan, who added: “The PCB is shocked and devastated to hear the news of Shane Warne’s passing. Shane will be sorely missed and cricket will be poorer without him. Our heartfelt condolences to Cricket Australia and Shane’s family and friends.”

Warne 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.

Former England cricketer and Sky Sports pundit Mark Butcher said: “He was incredibly sharp. Made great observations. He was never wrong - like the great ones are. He was just a lot of fun. Listening to the stories and escapades of Shane Warne could make the longest sessions fly by.”

Cricket Australia chair Dr Lachlan Henderson announced Australia’s men’s and women’s teams would wear black armbands and pause for a minute’s silence before their matches in Pakistan and New Zealand on Saturday.

Fans have placed tributes on the Shane Warne statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, while the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, announced the venue’s Great Southern Stand will be renamed the SK Warne Stand as a “permanent tribute to an amazing Victorian”.

Andrews has also offered the Warne family a state funeral.

“I have offered a state funeral to his family so Victorians can pay tribute to his legacy and contribution to our state, community and country,” he said.

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