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Warne drifts away: Cricket legend, 52, dies in Thailand


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In a brief statement, the former Australian cricketer's management company said he died of a suspected heart attack.

 

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Australian spin legend Shane Warne died of suspected heart attack at the age of 52

 

New Delhi Spin wizard, Shane Warne, 52, died of a suspected heart attack in a villa in Koh Samui, Thailand, his management company, MPC Entertainment, said in a brief statement on Friday night to Fox News, for which he was contracted as a commentator.

“It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4 March,” the statement read. “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.”

The news came hours after Warne’s Twitter handle posted a condolence message for Rodney Marsh, another icon of Australian cricket, who died at the age of 74 earlier in the day.

“Sad to hear the news that Rod Marsh has passed. He was a legend of our great game & an inspiration to so many young boys & girls. Rod cared deeply about cricket & gave so much -- especially to Australia & England players. Sending lots & lots of love to Ros & the family. RIP mate,” Warne tweeted in what would be his last public engagement.

A week ago, Warne had tweeted one of his old pictures and vowed to get back in prime shape.

“Operation shred has started (10 days in) & the goal by July is to get back to this shape from a few years ago ! Let’s go #heathy #fitness #feelgoodfriday,” he wrote.

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With 1,001 international wickets -- 708 in Tests and 293 in ODIs -- Warne was singularly responsible for reviving the art of leg-spin in the 1990s. He is also credited for bowling the “Ball of the Century”, a ripping leg break to castle England’s Mike Gatting in Manchester. It was also Warne’s first-ever ball in the Ashes.

Also Read | When Warne revealed that he was put on ventilator during battle with Covid-19

One of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century -- along with Sir Don Bradman, West Indians Sir Garry Sobers and Viv Richards, and England’s Sir Jack Hobbs -- he was a member of Australia’s 1999 World Cup winning side where he was Man of the Match in both the semi-final and final, and also part of the squad that twice won a record 16 Tests in a row, between 1999 and 2001 and 2005 to 2008.

In 2005, Warne took 96 wickets, still the highest for any calendar year. He forged a formidable combination with fast bowler Glenn McGrath, accounting for 1,001 wickets in 104 Tests together, making them the most prolific bowling pair in the history of the game. The fact that Australia were unbeaten in 119 of the 145 Tests Warne played tells the story of how effective he was.

Also Read | When Shane Warne revealed that he had a Bollywood offer waiting for him: 'It's a Hollywood movie shot for India'

Warne made his debut as a 22-year-old with blonde-frosted tips against India in Sydney in 1991-92, taking the solitary wicket of double centurion Ravi Shastri while conceding 150 runs in 45 overs. It was only during the 1993 Ashes tour— June 4 to be precise — that Warne finally showed his mettle, bamboozling Mike Gatting first ball of the tour. It was a leg break that was drifting and dipping to pitch outside leg, prompting Gatting to stretch out his left pad only to watch it turn square and scythe across him to clip the top of off-stump. Gatting stared back at the pitch in disbelief, not even realising initially that he had been clean bowled. Leg spin became sexy with that single delivery.

Off the field, however, Warne’s life was a hazy maze of controversies and scandals. In 1995, Mark Waugh and Warne were fined for passing on match-related information to an Indian bookmaker during the 1994 tour of Sri Lanka. In 2003, on the cusp of the 50-over World Cup, Warne was banned for taking a prohibited diuretic. He was later embroiled in a sexting controversy in England.

The news of Warne’s demise expectedly sent the cricket world in a state of shock. One of Warne’s great rivals, Sachin Tendulkar, said he was “shocked, stunned and miserable”.

“Will miss you Warnie. There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter. You always had a special place for India & Indians had a special place for you. Gone too young!,” Tendulkar tweeted.

Also Read | Shane Warne dies: 'Can't process his passing' - Kohli, Rohit react to legend's death; 'Champion of our game has left us'

Another of Warne’s celebrated rivals, West Indies genius Brian Lara said he was “speechless” at the loss of “one of the greatest sportsmen of all time”.

Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who played 70 Tests with Warne between 1999-2007, tweeted, “Numb. The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie. Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work. Have often felt a tad selfish, that Heals and I pretty much exclusively are the only ones who had that thrill and pleasure at Test level. Rip Warnie.”

Warne and Gilchrist accounted for 59 dismissals, the second highest for a spinner-keeper pair.

Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker, Muttiah Muralitharan, also took to social media to share his thoughts.

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened that the legendary Shane Warne with whom I have had years of cricketing association has passed away at such an early age,” Murali, a veteran of 800 Test wickets, wrote. “He was truly a genius in reviving the art of leg-spin to be at the forefront of Australian cricket dominance and I have greatly admired him for the way in which he created bowling history.”

Australia’s men’s cricket team is currently touring Pakistan for a Test series, their first in 24 years. The news became public within an hour after stumps on day one of the ongoing first Test in Rawalpindi.

“Hard to fathom. We all idolised Warnie growing up for his showmanship, will to win from any position and his incredible skill. Players all over the world owe him so much for what he has brought to cricket. He had a huge effect on all he met. He transcended cricket. RIP King,” Australia skipper Pat Cummins tweeted.

India cricketer Virat Kohli, playing his 100th Test in Mohali, said he “cannot process the passing” of Warne.

“Life is so fickle and unpredictable. I cannot process the passing of this great of our sport and also a person I got to know off the field. RIP #goat. Greatest to turn the cricket ball,” he tweeted.

Vivian Richards also took to Twitter to condole the former leg-spinner’s demise. “Unbelievable. I am shocked to the core. This can’t be true...Rest In Peace, @ShaneWarne. There are no words to describe what I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket.”

Pakistan’s pace bowling ace and Warne’s contemporary, Wasim Akram, mourned the passing of “an iconic bowler” and “a great entertainer”.

Warne even embraced the T20 format in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), guiding an unfancied Rajasthan Royals to glory. It remains their only title to date.

 

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