All-time great leggie Shane Warne dies

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RAWALPINDI: Australia’s legendary cricketer and all-time great leggie Shane Warne died today in Thailand, aged 52.

Warne’s management released a brief statement in the early hours of Saturday saying that he passed away in Koh Samui, Thailand, of a suspected heart attack. “Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived,” the statement said.

Meanwhile Cricket Australia said in a statement that Australian cricket, along with the whole cricketing world, is in a state of shock at the loss of Shane Warne, a true cricketing genius. Warne almost single-handedly reinvented the art of leg-spin when he burst onto the international scene in the early 1990s, and by the time he retired from international cricket in 2007 he had become the first bowler to reach 700 Test wickets. A central figure in Australia’s ICC Cricket World Cup triumph in 1999, when he was player of the match in both the semi-final and the final, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack recognised Shane’s achievements by naming him as one of its Five Cricketers of the Twentieth Century.

Shane’s strength of character and enormous resilience saw him bounce back from career-threatening finger and shoulder injuries, and his stamina, his sheer will to win, and his self-belief were key factors in Australia’s great side of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Shane finished his international career with 708 Test wickets and a further 293 in One-Day Internationals, placing him second in the list of all-time international wicket-takers behind his great friend and rival Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka (1347). Shane also captained Australia in 11 One-Day Internationals, winning 10 and losing just once.

At first-class level he was a passionate Victorian and enjoyed a long association with English county Hampshire. And at the end of his playing career, he also had successful stints in the Indian Premier League, captaining the Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural title in 2008, and the Big Bash League in Australia with the Melbourne Stars. After he hung up his bowling boots, Shane continued to offer so much to the sport as a coach and commentator. In 2021 he worked with the London Spirit in the inaugural edition of The Hundred in the United Kingdom, something he was set to reprise this year. He also worked as a broadcaster, and his forthright views and incredible insights gave viewers all over the world a deeper insight into the sport he loved.

Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley, in Pakistan for the first Test of the Benaud-Qadir Trophy series, said: “Shane was one of the most talented and charismatic cricketers we have ever witnessed. 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. “Wisden named him as one of the five cricketers of the twentieth century and he was rightly placed alongside the names of Bradman, Hobbs, Sobers and Vivian Richards.

“We are in a state of complete shock at his sudden passing and our thoughts are with his family, his many friends and the legion of fans from all over the world who loved and admired Warnie for his unbelievable bowling skills, his humour, warmth and engaging personality.”

Australia men’s captain Pat Cummins said: “On behalf of the entire playing group and support staff here in Pakistan, I want to express our shock and sadness over Shane’s sudden passing. We are all numbed by the news. “Shane was a once-in-a-century cricketer and his achievements will stand for all time, but apart from the wickets he took and the games he helped Australia win, what he did was draw so many people to the sport.  “So many of us in the playing group grew up idolising him and fell in love with this great sport as a result, while many of our support staff either played with him or against him.

“It has been a terrible couple of days for Australian cricket with the passing of Rod Marsh and now Shane. Our thoughts are with both families and, in Shane’s case, particularly with his parents Keith and Bridgette, his brother Jason and his children Jackson, Summer and Brooke. “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.”