Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne dies aged 52

Leg-spin legend suffered a suspected heart attack while in Thailand management announces

Shane Warne, the greatest leg-spinner in the history of cricket and an Australian icon who transcended the sport, has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52.

The news was confirmed by Warne’s management company on Friday and released initially to Fox Sports, the network for whom he commentated after a playing career that returned 708 Test cricket from 145 caps between 1992 and 2007.

A statement from MPC entertainment to the UK media said: “It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday March 4th.

“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.”


Coming just 24 hours after Australian cricket had lost former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh to a heart attack aged 74, news of Warne’s passing left supporters, former teammates and opponents shocked and numb as tributes flowed on social media. Warne himself had paid tribute to Marsh.

Members of the current Australia team learned of the news while travelling back from day one of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. David Warner, the opener, 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 cannot believe it. rip, you will both be missed.”

Viv Richards, the former West Indies captain who like Warne was named one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the 20th century, tweeted: “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.”

The numbers from Warne’s playing days were remarkable, his 708 Test wickets second only to Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muraliathan (800) and his 194 one-day internationals returning 293 victims and a World Cup winner’s medal in 1999. Though the rise of the Twenty20 format came after his international career, he played in the Indian Premier League, captaining Rajasthan Royals to the title in 2008, and played five seasons for Hampshire in English county cricket between 2000 and 2007.

But the figures also scarcely tell the story of a cricketer who transformed the art of leg-spin after making his Test debut against India aged 22 despite just seven first-class matches for Victoria. Though Warne’s start was underwhelming, the following year he truly announced himself on the world stage when his first delivery in Ashes cricket – the “Ball of the Century” – bowled a bamboozled England’s Mike Gatting at Old Trafford.

Warne went on to leave an indelible mark on the storied history of the rivalry between the two nations, playing a role in six successive Ashes series wins and then producing arguably his finest performance – 40 wickets, despite off-field marriage problems – during the famous 2005 series that saw England end 16 years of Australian dominance.

In 1998 it emerged that Warne and Mark Waugh had been fined four years earlier for providing information to an Indian bookmaker during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka. But his darkest cricketing moment came when he was suspended from all cricket for 12 months before the start of the 2003 World Cup after testing positive for a diuretic.

Bowling out from international after the 2006-07 Ashes, the urn safely reclaimed with a 5-0 whitewash, Warne was one of the most astute tacticians in the game; the greatest captain Australia never had, went the oft-said phrase about a cricketing brain that always crackled with ideas and theories.

This carried through to his post-playing days as a commentator for Sky in the UK and Fox Sports in Australia, so too the mischievous, larrikin character that generated headlines at both the front and back of newspapers and proved so popular with the sporting public. He was engaged to the actor Liz Hurley in 2010, a relationship that ended in 2013.

Warne leaves behind three children – Jackson, Brooke and Summer – from his 10-year marriage to Simone Callahan that ended in 2005.

- Guardian