Shane Warne will go down as one the greatest cricketers in history and a figure that transcended the game like nobody else ever has. The sporting world is in mourning after news of the sudden passing of Australia’s greatest ever bowler. Warne’s management released a brief statement in the early hours of Saturday (AEDT) saying that he passed away in Koh Samui, Thailand, of a suspected heart attack.
Adored By Millions Affectionately known as ‘Warnie’ and adored by millions across the globe, Warne is considered by many as the best bowler to ever play the game. His stellar international career spanned across 15 years and saw him take 708 Test wickets — the most ever for an Australian, and the second-most of all time behind only Muttiah Muralitharan. Having made his Test debut at the SCG in 1992, Warne’s otherworldly talent saw him rise to become a key figure across both formats in one of the greatest sustained periods of dominance by any team in world cricket.
He was a member of Australia’s triumphant World Cup squad in 1999, seven Ashes-winning sides between 1993 and 2006-07, and the team that conquered the final frontier in India in 2004. Warne’s maiden Test innings was not suggestive of the greatness that was to come, taking 1-150 from his 45 overs with his first wicket being India great, Ravi Shastri. His Test career may have started slowly over the year that followed but selectors put their faith in the kid from Melbourne’s east — and the rest is history.
Warne truly announced his arrival on the world stage at the 1993 Ashes where, with his very first ball in Test cricket against England, he delivered the ‘ball of the century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting. The delivery drifted, and pitched outside leg before fizzing back across Gatting to clip his off-stump, leaving the England veteran stunned.
The cricket world was stunned, too, with Warne sending a statement that he was going to single-handedly revive the dying art of wrist spin. It was far from Warne’s only piece of Ashes magic early in his career. The following year, Warne became the first player to take a hat-trick at the Ashes in 91 years. His stocks continued to rapidly rise from there to the point he blurred the lines between cricketer and celebrity.
Warne’s star power reached scary heights with his party boy persona making him the obsession of British tabloids, who he long had a strained relationship with. Warne, however, always found a way to compartmentalise his cricket despite his name often making the front page of the paper, and not just the back.
His performance at the 1999 Cricket World Cup was one of his finest hours, as he took 20 wickets at 18.05, including 4-33 in the final against Pakistan to be named player-of-the-match. It proved to be the final World Cup Warne played as he was banned from playing for 12 months on the eve of the 2003 tournament after being found guilty of taking a banned diuretic.
Despite the lay-off, Warne — who wore the No.23 to emulate Michael Jordan — returned to his lofty heights and enjoyed some of his finest playing years. Ironically, one of his greatest-ever Test performances came in a losing side. He took a whopping 40 wickets at 19.92 at the 2005 Ashes in a spellbinding individual display.
Warne played in one more Ashes; the 2006-07 5-0 whitewash in which he took his 700th Test wicket at his home-ground, the MCG, on Boxing Day. The leg-spinner retired from Test cricket at the end of the series, going out while still at the peak of his powers with 708 wickets at 25.41. One of his great regrets was that he walked away from Test cricket without a century. In 2001, he was famously dismissed off a Daniel Vettori no ball while on 99, and at Old Trafford in 2005 he was removed for 90.
Warne continued to play T20 cricket, becoming a main drawcard for both the Indian Premier League — which he won with Rajasthan Royals — and the Big Bash League in their early stages. Prominent Commentator Later in his career, Warne was a prominent voice in the media, commentating with Channel 9 and Sky Sports before joining Fox Cricket. He was a loved and highly-respected member and leader of the Fox Cricket crew who he had just finished calling the Ashes, BBL, and Australia’s T20 series against Sri Lanka, for. Warne’s death comes just weeks after the release of a feature length documentary on his life called Shane.