Shane Warne, one of the finest bowlers of all time who revived the art of leg-spin, has died aged 52 after a suspected heart attack.
The Australian – a larger-than-life character whose total of 708 Test wickets has been surpassed only by his contemporary rival and fellow spinner Muttiah Muralitharan – could not be revived after being found unresponsive in his Thailand villa.
“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,” a statement from his management company MPC Entertainment 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.”
Warne – who was the joint-leading wicket-taker as Australia won the 1999 World Cup and finished with 293 one-day dismissals in 194 matches – brought an illustrious 15-year international career to an end in 2007.
Named in 2000 as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, alongside Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Viv Richards, Warne’s impact on the game is immediately apparent. His leg breaks, googlies, flippers and sliders bamboozled many accomplished batters and England were often in his crosshairs. He took 195 wickets at 23.25 with 11 five-fors and four 10-wicket match hauls against the old rivals. But there was also an affinity with England, with Warne representing Hampshire with distinction from 2000 to 2007.
While he was celebrated on the field, he and Mark Waugh were fined for accepting money from a bookmaker while he was suspended for 12 months before the start of the 2003 World Cup, after testing positive for a diuretic. However, he established his legacy upon his return, becoming the first bowler to reach 700 Test wickets before bowing out after helping Australia seal a 5-0 Ashes victory in the 2006-07 series.
He continued to play on the franchise Twenty20 circuit before retiring from playing altogether in 2013, after which he became well-renowned for his insight and forthright opinion as a commentator and pundit.
After the deaths of Warne and Rod Marsh – who died late on Friday in Adelaide – the Australia opener David Warner tweeted: “Two legends of our game have left us too soon. I’m lost for words, and this is extremely sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh and Warne family. I just can not believe it. rip, you will both be missed.”
The India captain, Rohit Sharma, tweeted: “I’m truly lost for words here, this is extremely sad. An absolute legend and champion of our game has left us. RIP Shane Warne….still can’t believe it.”