Sports fans around the world, including this author, are still in shock after Australian spin bowling legend Shane Warne died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand.
The 708-Test wicket great was found unresponsive by friends in a villa he was staying at in Koh Samui, Thailand.
Warne was in Thailand for a health retreat and was planning to get fit and back into shape.
The Australia public was left in shock after Warne’s management confirmed in a statement the tragic news.
“It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4th March,” the statement begun.
“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.”
In a press conference the following day after Warne’s death, Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula announced the Great Southern Stand at the MCG will be renamed the S.K. Warne Stand.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has also offered Warne’s family a State Funeral which is expected to be held at the MCG.
Warne was born in Ferntree Gully, Victoria and burst onto the cricket scene as an exciting young spin bowler and became popular for his talents on the field, plus his colourful life away from cricket.
Warne was the first bowler to take 700 Test wickets and became known as the ‘King of Spin’ with a variety of deliveries including leg-breaks, googlies, flippers and his own ‘zooters’.
The spin bowling great bowled the famous ‘ball of the century’ to Englishman Mike Gatting on 4 June 1993, the second day of the first Test of the 1993 Ashes series, at Old Trafford in Manchester. The delivery was Warne’s first bowl that he delivered in England.
Warne retired from Australia cricket in 2007 following a 5-0 Ashes series win at home and played 145 Tests over a 15-year career.
Warne had a huge impact on the game of cricket and was named as one of five cricketers in Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century, along with Donald Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards.
Following news of his death, tributes for the ‘king of spin’ poured in from all around the world and from far beyond the game of cricket.
Australian captain Pat Cummins said Warne was ‘a hero’ to the current generation of cricketers.
“The loss that we are all trying to wrap our heads around is huge,” Cummins said.
“The game was never the same after Warnie emerged, and the game will never be the same after his passing.”
Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar had many battles with Warne and was shocked to hear of his passing.
“Shocked, stunned & miserable… Will miss you Warnie. There was never a dull moment with you around. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter,” Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.
Former Australia team-mate and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchirst said it was a joy to play with Warne.
“Numb. The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie. Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work,” Gilchirst wrote on Twitter.
Australian musician and founding member of The Wiggles, Anthony Field, was in shock when he heard the news, calling Warne a legend.
“Very shocked to hear of the passing of Warnie. Rest In Peace, Legend,” he said.
English actor and writer Stephen Fry said he was heartbroken by the news of Warne’s death.
“Heartbroken to wake to news of the death of Shane Warne – heart was what he was all about; a huge heart and, of course, matchlessly dazzling skill with a cricket ball. He single-handedly (wristedly) put the art of spin back where it belonged – at the top of cricket. A true great,” Fry wrote on Twitter.
In recent days, fans have flocked to the MCG to pay tribute to Warne and have left flowers, notes, cans and bottles of beer, meat pies, cigarettes, cricket balls and bats amongst other items at his statue outside the ground.
This author grew up idolising the great man Shane Warne and spent many hours trying his hand at spin bowling in games of backyard cricket.
Over the years, watching Warne bowl I was always on the edge of my seat because I always knew the great man would deliver something special and lead Australia to victory.
The game of cricket will never be the same.
Thanks for the great memories, you will be forever missed.
Rest in peace King.