By: Upali Obeyesekere – With files from International Media
SHANE WARNE, widely regarded as the greatest leg-spinner of all time, has died aged 52. Warne died after a suspected heart attack, according to a statement from his management team and initially reported by Fox Cricket. Cricket fans from all nations have been left heartbroken by the news, with many calling him the greatest of all time.
“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.
He leaves behind his former wife Simone Callahan, and his three children Jackson, Brooke and Summer, mother and father Bridgette and Keith, and brother Jason. The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.
The Australian, known for his quick wit, suffered a ‘massive heart attack’, his management said on Friday March 4. He was at his villa in Thailand when he passed away. Warne was staying on the island of Koh Samui, around 600km south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand.
Thai Police have reported that Warne was staying with four friends at the villa when one had tried to wake the cricketer for food at around 5pm local time, but he was unresponsive. The four friends had tried to save Warne’s life for 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived to take Warne to the Thai International Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police confirmed: “The doctor announced the death of the person at 6:53pm.
Warne’s passing came just hours after he paid tribute online to another Australian cricket great, Rod Marsh. Widely regarded as one of the finest wicketkeepers to ever play the game, Marsh died after suffering a heart attack at a charity event, his former teammates said on Friday. The 74-year-old Marsh, who played 96 Tests and was later a long-time national selector, had been in an induced coma and died at a hospital in Adelaide.
Born on September 13, 1969, in the outer Melbourne suburb of Upper Ferntree Gully, Warne first played representative cricket when he was granted a scholarship to Mentone Grammar, representing the University of Melbourne Club in the Victoria Cricket Association under-16 Dowling Shield competition. He then joined the St. Kilda Cricket Club, near his home suburb of Black Rock. After a stint in Australian rules football at the St. Kilda under-19 team in 1988, where he made the reserve team and almost turned pro, Warne went to train at the Australia Cricket Academy in Adelaide. He made his professional debut in 1991 at Junction Oval in the match between Victoria and Western Australia. That same year, he was selected for Australia B and toured Zimbabwe, where he achieved his first five-for.
Warne starred for Australia cricket between 1992 and 2007 and is widely regarded as one of the finest leg-spin bowlers of all time in the history of the sport having taken 708 test wickets, with his career spanning 15 years. He later played in the Indian Premier League and other Twenty20 competitions before retiring from all international cricket in 2013 but continued to be involved in the game as a broadcaster.
Warne was credited with reviving the art of leg-spin and his 708 Test wickets is a tally surpassed only by Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 800.
Between 1993 and 2003, Warne was part of five Ashes-winning sides, and was also crowned a world champion in 1999. Not only was he one of the most gifted players in history, but Warne’s friendly character and unrivalled insight made him one of the best pundits in the business.
Warne made an underwhelming test debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1992 and rose to become a key figure across all formats during one of the greatest sustained periods of dominance by any team in world cricket. He wrote himself into folklore when he delivered the “Ball of the Century” with his first toss of the 1993 Ashes tour, bowling Mike Gatting with a ball that turned from well outside leg stump to clip the off bail.
“It’s one of those wonderful highlights of the game,” Gatting said in 2018. “One of those bits of history that belongs not only to me but to probably the best leg-spinner of all time.”
He played 145 Tests – only Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting (both 168) and Allan Border (156) – donned the Baggy Green Cap more often, and Warne also represented his country in 194 one-day internationals. Warne was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the 20th Century, alongside fellow Australian Sir Donald Bradman, West Indians Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards, and England’s Sir Jack Hobbs.
MARRIAGE AND LIZ HURLEY LOVE STORY
Shane Warne was married to his childhood sweetheart and former model Simone Callahan for 10 years. The marriage breaking down in 2005. The pair, who share children Brooke, Jackson and Summer, briefly reconciled after their divorce, but split for good in 2007 before he met Elizabeth Hurley in 2010. According to WalesOnline, the couple first met at a horse racing event 2010 and immediately hit it off. Both were divorced at the time and six months after they first locked eyes, Warne and Hurley started to make public appearances as a couple and dated from 2010 until 2013, briefly getting engaged before calling it quits. And during an interview with The Mirror, Shane admitted he looked back on those days fondly.
“I was more in love with Elizabeth than I’d realised I could be,” he said.
Hurley was linked to Warne in a cheating scandal before publicising her split from her previous husband Arun Nayar. Three months after her divorce to Nayar was finalised, the Passenger 57 actress was engaged to Warne. The international relationship had the pair flying back and forth and although there were a lot of speculation on why they ended their engagement in 2013, Warne told the Australian news site news.com.au that there was no “no single, clear reason”. In the 2020 ‘A Week With Warnie’ documentary, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed bowler revealed how the “circus” surrounding their romance relationship “got scary”. He recalled seven cars and a helicopter following their every move when Hurley visited him in Melbourne in 2011. WARNE admitted his relationship with Elizabeth Hurley were some of the happiest days of his life, and that he still missed the love they shared in an emotional interview before his death.
Tributes have poured in for Warne:
The news became public less than an hour after stumps on day one of Australia’s first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi and social media platforms were immediately flooded with messages of shock and condolence from around the world.
“Warnie was an all time great, a once in a century type cricketer, and his records will live on forever,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said from team hotel in Islamabad.
The sports world has been left in a state of shock by the news of the sudden death of the great Shane Keith Warne. From modern cricketing greats like England’s Ben Stokes to all-time legends of the game like Viv Richards, the overwhelming reaction was that the great bowler’s death at the age of just 52 on Friday seemed unthinkable. He was still such a larger-than-life character that his old foes on the field who became his great friends in the TV commentary box were left stupefied.
Australia opener David Warner tweeted: “Two legends of our game have left us too soon. I am lost for words, and this is extremely sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh and Warne family. I just cannot believe it.”
Former footballer Gary Lineker wrote: “Terribly saddened and shocked to hear the news that Shane Warne has died. The greatest spin bowler of all time. Cannot quite believe it. RIP Shane.”
With Irfan Pathan saying: “Shane Warne was a crowd puller. Magician with the ball. Absolute legend of Australian cricket. First IPL winning captain. He will be missed. He will be remembered forever.”
Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who is captaining his side against Australia in the current Test, said:
“Find it hard to believe. Such a devastating loss for the cricket world. He inspired generations with his magical leg spin. You’ll forever be missed.”
And Shikhar Dhawan writing: “Sad, speechless, and completely shocked. An incredible loss to cricket. I have no words. Thank you for everything you have done for the sport. Rest in Peace, Shane Warne. Sending my condolences to his loved ones.”
Close friend and huge cricket fan Piers Morgan tweeted shortly after the death: “Absolutely devastated to hear that Shane Warne has died from a heart attack aged just 52. He was a genius cricketer, a supreme entertainer, a fantastic bloke, and a great loyal friend for many years. Just gutting news. RIP Warnie, I loved every minute in your company.”
India great Sachin Tendulkar said he was “shocked, stunned & miserable.”
“Will miss you Warnie,” Tendulkar wrote on Twitter. “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!”
West Indies great Brian Lara echoed Tendulkar. “Speechless at the moment,” Lara said. “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 go out to his family. RIP Warnie!! You will be missed.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan and fellow Fox Cricket commentator said of Warne: “Everyone wanted to be around him but ultimately he was just a normal guy who could do incredible things.
“It just doesn’t feel real to be talking about someone who once was an enemy on the pitch to one who became a great friend off it. Shane was the greatest ever cricketer but more than that his character lit up every dressing room, commentary box, bar, golf club & friendship group. His energy and positivity were beyond anyone I have ever known, he was loyal beyond loyal.”
Farewell Shane Warne may the turf lie lightly over you!