Cricket: Shocked Australia mourns cricketing great ‘Warnie’

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One of the finest bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended cricket, Warne died at the age of 52 on Friday, shortly after arriving in Koh Samui for a vacation with friends.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led a cascade of tributes to Shane Warne as the country woke up on Saturday to the news the cricket great had died from a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Thailand.

As many in the sporting world and beyond expressed shock and grief, Morrison said Warne’s family had been offered a state funeral for the sportsman known to his compatriots simply as “Warnie”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led a cascade of tributes to Shane Warne as the country woke up on Saturday to the news the cricket great had died from a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Thailand.

As many in the sporting world and beyond expressed shock and grief, Morrison said Warne’s family had been offered a state funeral for the sportsman known to his compatriots simply as “Warnie”.

One of the finest bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended cricket, Warne died at the age of 52 on Friday, shortly after arriving in Koh Samui for a vacation with friends.

” Australians have woken in shock and sadness to the awful news of the death of Shane Warne,” Morrison said in a statement.

“Shane was one of our greatest cricketers of all time … but Shane was more than this to Australians. Shane was one of our nation’s greatest characters.

“His humour, his passion, his irreverence, his approachability ensured he was loved by all. Australians loved him. We all did.”

Warne’s death dominated local media on Saturday, pushing news of devastating floods on the east coast of Australia and the war in Ukraine off the top of news bulletins and websites.

“To us, he was the greatest – but to his family, he was so much more,” Dan Andrews, premier of Warne’s home state Victoria, said in a statement. “Our hearts are breaking for Shane’s family and friends – and they are in the thoughts of all Victorians.”

Devastated fans laid bouquets of flowers at the foot of a statue of Warne outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the cavernous cathedral of cricket where he took his 700th wicket on Boxing Day 2006.

“NOT SUSPICIOUS”

Thai Police said Warne and three other friends were staying in a private villa in Koh Samui and one of them went to inquire about him after the former cricketer did not turn up for dinner.

“The friend did CPR on him and called an ambulance,” Chatchawin Nakmusik, an officer with the Bo Put police, told Reuters by phone.

“An emergency response unit then arrived and did another CPR for 10-20 minutes. Then an ambulance from the Thai International Hospital arrived and took him there. They did CPR for five minutes, and then he died.”

They did not know the cause of death but were not treating it as suspicious, Chatchawin added.

Warne’s death came hours after another former Australian cricket great, wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, died at the age of 74.

“Absolute shock and horror,” Sydney resident Allan Lumb told Reuters on Saturday morning.

“Couldn’t believe it. I woke up at two o’clock or three, I can’t remember, and I just turned the radio on low and I heard it. I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe that of a fellow so young.”

SOCIAL MEDIA TRIBUTES

Credited for reviving the art of leg spin, Warne made his test debut in 1992 against India and by the time he ended his 15-year international career, the spinner had established himself as one of the all-time greats of the game.

Tributes to Warne continued to flood social media with the great and the good of cricket joined by fans of the sport such as rock stars Mick Jagger, Elton John and Ed Sheeran.

“Shane was the kindest heart, and always went above and beyond to make people feel welcome and special. Such a gentleman,” Sheeran wrote in an Instagram post.

Australia’s men and women’s teams will wear black armbands in Warne’s honour when they play matches in Islamabad and Hamilton, New Zealand respectively later on Saturday.

Rated by the esteemed Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as one of the five greatest players of the 20th century, Warne was one of the game’s prominent crowd-pullers whose craft as well as his lifestyle often made headlines.

“Of course he was controversial, but also put cricket on the map for a lot of people,” Sydney resident Eddie Piazza told Reuters.

“So he did a couple of crazy things, but what a legend and we should remember him for the good things.”

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