warne: Cricket: Shocked Australia mourns cricket great ‘Warnie’

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

As many in the sporting world and beyond have expressed their 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 greatest bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended cricket, Warne died on Friday at the age of 52, shortly after arriving in Koh Samui for a holiday with friends.

“Australians woke up to shock and sadness at the terrible news of Shane Warne’s death,” Morrison said in a statement.

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

“His humour, his passion, his irreverence, his approachability made him loved by all. Australians loved him. We all loved him.”

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

“To us he was the greatest – but to his family he was so much more,” Dan Andrews, premier of the home state of Warne, Victoria, said in a statement. “Our hearts break 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 won his 700th wicket on Boxing Day 2006.

“NOT SUSPICIOUS”

Thai police said Warne and three other friends were staying at a private villa in Koh Samui and one of them went to inquire about him after the former cricketer failed to come to dinner.

“The friend gave him CPR and called an ambulance,” Chatchawin Nakmusik, a police officer in Bo Put, told Reuters by phone.

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

They did not know the cause of death but were not treating him as a suspect, Chatchawin added.

Warne’s death came hours after another former Australian cricketer great, wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, died aged 74.

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

“I couldn’t believe it. I woke up at two or three, I can’t remember, and I just turned the radio on full blast and I heard it. I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe a man so young.”


TRIBUTES ON SOCIAL MEDIA


Credited with reviving the art of the 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 the one of the greatest players of all time.

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

“Shane was the sweetest 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’s and women’s teams will wear black armbands in Warne’s honor when they play matches in Islamabad and Hamilton, New Zealand, respectively later on Saturday.

Regarded by the esteemed Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as one of the five greatest players of the 20th century, Warne was one of the game’s foremost crowd pullers whose craft and lifestyle often made headlines.

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

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

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