Australia is in a state of “complete shock” after the loss of one of its greatest ever sports stars, with Shane Warne dead at age 52.
Warne died in a Thailand hotel on Friday while on holiday of a suspected heart attack, with his management confirming he was found unresponsive and unable to be revived.
The news came less than 24 hours after the death of fellow Australia cricket legend Rod Marsh, who Warne himself had only just publicly paid tribute to.
Australia’s men’s Test team had just finished play on day one in Pakistan when the news broke, while the women were set to wake to it as they begin their World Cup in New Zealand on Saturday.
“Hard to fathom,” a clearly emotional Pat Cummins said.
“Warnie was an all-time great. A once-in-a-century type cricketer and his records will live on forever
“We all grew up watching Warnie, idolising him. We all had posters on our walls, had his earings.
“We loved so much about Warnie.
“His showmanship, his charisma, his tactics, the way he just willed himself and the team around him to win games for Australia.
“There are so many guys in this team and squad who still have him as a hero and all-time favourite player. The loss we are trying to wrap our head around is huge.
“The game of cricket was never the same after Shane emerged, and it will never be the same now he has gone. Rest in peace King.”
Warne was Australia’s greatest-ever bowler and arguably the country’s second greatest cricketer in history behind Don Bradman.
Named one of the five cricketers of the 20th century by Wisden when he was still midway through his career, Warne owned the field in the way few others have.
A magician with the ball, the legspinner remains Australia’s leading wicket-taker and sits second behind Muthiah Muralidaran globally with 708 scalps in 145 Tests.
He played one of the most influential roles in Australia’s golden era of cricket, announcing himself with the magic ball that bowled Mike Gatting in 1993 and bowing out with a 5-0 Ashes whitewash at home in 2006-07.
In between times, he bowled Australia to the 1999 World Cup, helping them back from the brink with unforgettable displays in the semi-final and final.
Such was Warne’s brilliance, he took a record 96 wickets in the penultimate year of his career.
All up he finished with 1001 international wickets across all formats, earning spots in the ICC, Australian cricket and Australian sport Hall of Fame.
“Shane was one of the most talented and charismatic cricketers we have ever witnessed,” Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said.
“He loved cricket, had an extraordinarily astute understanding of the game and his influence and legacy will last for as long as it is played.
“We are in a state of complete shock at his sudden passing.”
Teammate Adam Gilchrist took to social with 12 broken hearts, while the likes of Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Vaughan posted their shock and devastation.
“Numb. The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie. Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work,” said Gilchrist.
Thai police have since told Reuters that Warne’s body had been taken for an autopsy and friends who found him would be spoken with, but added there were no signs of foul play.
SHANE WARNE (September 13, 1969 – March 4, 2022)
* Tests: 145
* Test Wickets: 708 at 25.41
* Test Runs: 3154 at 17.32
* ODIs: 194
* ODI wickets: 293 at 25.73
* ODI runs: 1018 and 13.05
* One of five Wisden Cricketers of 20th century
* Australian Cricket Hall of Fame
* ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
* Sport Australia Hall of Fame
* 1999 World Cup winner
* 1999 World Cup player of the final