Australian cricketer Shane Warne, one of the finest leg-spin bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended the sport, died aged 52 on Friday.
Warne died from a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand, his family confirmed in a statement.
“Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived,” the statement read.
“The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.”
Thai Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.
Warne’s associates staying in the same villa tried unsuccessfully to revive him, police added.
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 chubby spinner had established himself as one of the all-time greats of the game, bagging 708 wickets in 145 Tests.
He later played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and other Twenty20 competitions before retiring from all cricket in 2013 but continued to be involved in the game as a broadcaster. Often called the best captain Australia never head, he inspired Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural IPL title in 2008.
Warne also had 293 wickets from 194 one-dayers and won the man-of-the-match award when Australia beat Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup final.
Rated among the five greatest cricketers of the 20th century, Warne was one of the game’s prominent crowd-pullers whose craft as well as lifestyle often made headlines.
The wily spinner frequently courted controversy and served a 12-month ban after testing positive for banned diuretics in 2003.
Warne’s death is the second major blow to Cricket Australia on Friday after another Australian legend, Rodney Marsh, also passed away earlier in the day.
Warne’s last post on Twitter, 12 hours before his death was reported, was a tribute to Marsh.
“Sad to hear the news that Rod Marsh has passed. He was a legend of our great game and an inspiration to so many young boys and girls. Rod cared deeply about cricket and gave so much-especially to Australia and England players. Sending lots and lots of love to Ros and the family.”
‘Devastating loss for cricket world’
The cricket fraternity expressed shock over Warne’s sudden death as messages continued to pour in on social media websites.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said he found it “hard to believe” that Warne was no more. “Such a devastating loss for the cricket world. He literally inspired generations with his magical leg spin,” Azam wrote on Twitter.
Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara also expressed disbelief, saying that he was “absolutely shocked and gutted” to hear about the death of a “legend and friend”.
Pace great Waqar Younis shared similar sentiments and said it was a “very, very sad day for our cricket community. The biggest superstar of my generation [is] gone”.
Meanwhile, Australia opener David Warner grieved the loss of “two legends” — Warne and Marsh — saying that they had left too soon.
“I’m lost for words, and this is extremely sad,” he tweeted.
Warne’s great Indian rival Sachin Tendulkar was “shocked, stunned and miserable” at the death of the Australian stalwart.
“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,” Tendulkar tweeted.
West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards said he was “shocked to the core” after hearing about Warne’s death.
“This can’t be true … There are no words to describe what I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket,” he tweeted.
Veteran Shahid Afridi extended his “deepest condolences” to Warne’s family.
With the Australian legend’s death, he said, the “game of cricket has lost what I consider a university of leg-spin bowling today”.
“I was inspired by his bowling from the start of my career and it was always a privilege to play against him,” Afridi added.
Pakistan bowler Shadab Khan eulogised Warne as a cricketer who “inspired generations”.
” There will be none like you (Warne) … you are the reason so many of us started bowling leg spin,” he tweeted.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma tweeted that “an absolute legend and champion of our game has left us.”
Former England batsman Ian Bell remembered Warne as someone who was his “hero growing up and the greatest player I ever played against”.
And former Indian Batsman Gautam Gambhir described Warne as one of the few who “can match their attitude with raw talent”.
“Shane Warne made bowling look like magic!” he tweeted.
published in dawn