Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt and head coach Phil Simmons have joined iconic cricketers like Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and the rest of the world in paying tribute to legendary former Australia cricket leg-spinner Shane Warne, who passed away from a suspected heart attack in Thailand today.
Thai Police said Warne and three other friends were staying in a private villa and one of them went to inquire about him after the former cricketer did not turn up for dinner.
The 52-year-old Warne, according to his management company MPC Entertainment, was found in an unresponsive state and ‘despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived’.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame inductee, Warne represented Australia in 145 Test matches and 194 ODIs and was the Player of the Match in the semi-final and the final of his country’s victorious 1999 World Cup campaign.
He has 708 Test wickets—the second-highest after Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan—and 293 scalps in ODIs.
His death came just hours after another former Australian cricket standout, wicket-keeper Rod Marsh, died at the age of 74. Marsh played against West Indies in the inaugural Cricket World Cup final in 1975. CWI extended condolences to the family and friends of both men, as well as to the Australian cricket fraternity.
“I remember him playing against us and his battles with Brian Lara,” said Simmons, “and then we can all remember ‘that ball’, when he bowled Mike Gatting in the Ashes.
“We also admired his commentary after he ended playing and how great he was at that as well. He was a true legend of the game.”
Like Simmons, ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice credited Warne for ‘changing the landscape of cricket by reviving the art of leg-spin’.
“He was a true legend of the game,” said Allardice. “[…] His larger-than-life personality, extraordinary skill and immense cricketing intellect ensured fans were glued to their seats whenever he was involved in a game.
“His contribution off the field was also remarkable, where he shared his time and experiences so generously with young players—especially up and coming leg-spinners.”
Current and past cricket stars paid homage to the legendary leg-spinner:
Brian Lara (West Indies): “Heartbroken and speechless at the moment. I literally don’t know how to sum up this situation. My friend is gone! We have lost one of the greatest sportsmen of all time!
“My condolences go out to his family. RIP Warnie! You will be missed.”
Sachin Tendulkar (India): “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 and off-field banter. You always had a special place for India and Indians had a special place for you. Gone too young!”
Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies): “Sometimes it’s difficult to remember people who you idolise are human. It’s impossible to think they’ll leave us. Such a young age with so much more to give to our game. This is a big loss to the cricketing world. RIP Shane Warne.”
Adam Gilchrist (Australia): “The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie. [I] have often felt a tad selfish, that (Ian Healy) and I pretty much exclusively are the only ones who had that thrill and pleasure at Test level.
“It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Warne reinvigorated the art of spin, captivating the world with his feel for what is regarded as one of the most difficult cricketing crafts.
“In the 20 years before Shane’s Test debut, just 176 listed spin bowlers bowled an over in the game’s longest format. In the 15 years after his retirement, 259 bowlers have already done the same.
“The game of cricket will forever be richer for Warne’s impact.”